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Colonel NEVINS. Colonel Nevins.
Admiral BURKHALTER. I think from these experts I have with me we can answer, I hope, any questions you might have in this vitally important area of Soviet strategic capabilities.
As you well, know sir, over the past 20 years the Soviet Union has devoted substantial resources to the development and deployment of its strategic nuclear forces. It has moved from a position of clear inferiority at that time to one in which its nuclear forces are generally recognized as equal to superior in certain measures to those of the West.
Soviet efforts addressed their ICBM capabilities, their submarinelaunched ballistic-missile capabilities and to a lesser extent their bomber-force capabilities. I propose to summarize briefly their current status in each of these areas.
In addition, I will also discuss the status of Soviet air and ballisticmissile defenses. These comments are drawn principally from the booklet, “Soviet Military Power," which was recently made available by Secretary Weinberger to the public.
First, as a point of departure, let me trace the history of these strategic forces since 1964. At that time the Soviets had only a few operational SLBM's, many of which had to be launched from surfaced submarines. While the U.S.S.R. had more ICBM's than SLBM's, the number was significantly fewer than the U.S. ICBM's. Moreover, the majority of Soviet ICBM's were inaccurate systems housed in launchers that were clustered together and unhardened, making them vulnerable to attack
The U.S.S.R. then embarked on high priority development and deployment programs first focused on increasing single-silo ICBM deployment to a level greater than that of the United States. A similar buildup of SLBM launchers on modern, nuclear-powered ballisticmissile submarines was underway by the late sixties.
These massive 1960 ICBM and SLBM deployment programs, largely centered on the SS-9 and the SS-11 ICBM's and the SS-N-6/Yankee weapon systems, provided the foundation from which subsequent strategic nuclear modernization programs were to grow.
The seventies modernization, which only now are reaching a conclusion, were largely technological in nature. More than half of the 1,398 Soviet ICBM launchers have been rebuilt to house the newer SS-17, SS-18, and SS-19 ICBM's in vastly more survivable hardened silos. These ICBM's, all of which are MIRV'd, are in the forefront of ICBM technology.
Certain versions of the SS-18 and the SS-19 are among the most accurate ICBM's operational anywhere. Together, these systems have the capability to destroy a large percentage of the more than 1,000 ICBM launchers using only part of their total numbers.
The Soviet SLBM/SSBN modernization began in the early seventies with the introduction of the long-range SS-N-8 SLBM deployed on
Delta class SSBN's. By the late seventies the Soviet were producing the MIRV'd SS-N-18 and deploying it in a modified version of the Delta class submarines.
In 1979 a new SLBM, the MIRV'd SS-NX-20, was first tested. This SLBM will probably reach operational status by the mideighties, deployed in the new Typhoon class SSBN submarine.
These technological advances in ICBM and SLBM weapon systems have been accompanied by major improvements in communications systems and in the organization of the forces as well.
Soviet intercontinental bomber forces retain most of the Bear and Bison bombers and refueling tankers which were initially produced in the fifties and sixties. Improvements to their avionic and weapon systems have been made, however, since the early seventies. The U.S.S.R. has also deployed over 70 Backfire bombers to operational long-range aviation units and is producing about 30 more of these supersonic bombers each year.
While Backfire appears to have been given primarily theater and maritime missions, it has a strategic capability and cannot be ignored as a potential intercontinental bomber threat.
Current force levels of Soviet intercontinental strategic nuclear forces include 1,398 ICBM launchers, 950 SLBM launchers, and 156 long-range bombers, including Backfire. These delivery systems are loaded with some 7,000 nuclear warheads. Deployment programs now under way indicate that the number of warheads will increase over the next few years.
LONG-RANGE THEATER MISSILES
Since the late fifties, the Soviet have dedicated significant numbers of nuclear, land-based missiles to theater warfare missions. No theater has been neglected, but the European theater has always commanded the greatest attention. The first medium-range ballistic missiles were fielded in the late fifties, followed by improved MRBM's and new intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the early sixties.
More than 700 fixed launchers for these systems, the SS-3 and SS-4 MRBM's and the SS-5 IRBM, were operational at peak deployment in the midsixties. All but approximately 100 were directed at targets in or related to the European theater. The remainder were directed against the Middle East, South Asia, and the Western Pacific littoral. China was not then a target.
In the late sixties, the Soviets began to draw down these, by then, obsolescent missiles, replacing them with ICBM's and adding coverage of their new enemy-China.
This situation remained unchanged until 1977 when the SS-20 IRBM first reached operational status. Previously, the theaterdedicated strategic nuclear missiles were based at fixed, vulnerable sites, and each missile carried only one warhead-although provisions for force reconstitution and refire were made.
The SS-20 eliminated most of these weaknesses. Its launchers are highly mobile, and each SS-20 is fitted with three very accurate and independently targetable MIRV'd warheads. Moreover, each SS-20 init is equipped with refire missilesone per launcher—and each refire "ssile is fitted with three warheads.
Thus, the firepower of the theater strategic nuclear missile forces is being greatly multiplied, even though the Soviets are withdrawing older SSA's and SS-5's from the forces as the new SS-20's are deployed.
Soviet strategic operational employment plans, based on Soviet writings, point to seizing the initiative through preemptive attack. Such an attack would effectively reduce the impact of a retaliatory strike, limiting damage to the U.S.S.R. While this is the preferred Soviet scenario, the Soviets also have the capability to launch on tactical warning if necessary.
Regardless of how a war started, the Soviets view the nuclear forces and command and control of an enemy as their first priority targeting objectives. This would include such" targets as ICBM launch silos, launch control facilities, support and maintenance facilities, strategic bomber bases, submarine berths, and loading facilities, and nuclear storage and production facilities.
Priority 2 target would be those that would negate the ability to project military power abroad. Such targets would include depots, transportation centers, military stockpiles, conventional force bases, and training centers. Other targets would be those that limit the capacity of the enemy to conduct a protracted war, such as military industries, refineries, and electrical power plants.
Turning now to a more detailed discussion of these strategic systems, the Soviet ICBM force is deployed in missile complexes generally located along, and within access of, the Trans-Siberian Railway. A typical ICBM complex includes a main base support area, a facility for transferring missiles and equipment from rail to roads, and launch control centers, each with a group of launch silos it controls. Each complex is comprised of a number of launch groups; each launch group is comprised of either six or ten launch silos.
The ICBM force currently consists of 580 SS-11's, 60 SS-13's, 150 SS-17's, 308 SS-18's, and about 300 SS–19's. The great majority of the 17's, 18's, and 19's are equipped with MIRV's, not all. The Soviet are expected to complete their current ICBM modernization program in the early eighties.
SS-20 DEPLOYMENT As of July 1981, some 250 SS-20 launcher/missile sets equipped with a total of 750 nuclear warheads had been deployed. Of these, 175 with 525 warheads are deployed opposite the NATO countries. There is no sign that the deployment is slackening.
Since January 1981, the pace of the SS-20 base construction has increased, particularly opposite the NATO nations. At bases known to be under construction currently, another 65 launchers with some 195 warheads will he deploved. Perhaps as many as 100–150 additional launchers with 300 to 450 warheads could be fielded before the deployment program reaches its conclusion.
While this modern nuclear force will continue coverage of theater targets around the Soviet | will be concentrated primarily against the Euro
ICBM RELOAD CAPABILITY The Soviets could have contingency plans for reloading and refiring missiles from ICBM launchers which already have fired an initial round. The cold-launch technique employed by the SS-17 and the SS-18 lends itself to such a capability in a protracted nuclear conflict. Additionally, the Soviets may be able to reconstitute a portion of their hot-launched missile force—SS-11's, SS-13's, and SS-19's— as well.
The Soviets probably cannot refurbish and reload silo launchers in a period less than several days, thereby avoiding violation of the SALT II agreement which precludes a rapid reload capability for ICBM launchers.
ICBM PRODUCTION Development of strategic missiles is the function of four major Soviet design bureaus. These bureaus are supported by activities at main assembly plants, at hundreds of component production plants, at test ranges, and at launch complexes. The Soviet missile development program, therefore, shows no signs of slackening.
We expect improvements leading to new missiles and to the modification of existing missile systems. These improvements are expected to continue the trends toward greater capabilities against such hardened military structures as ICBM silos.
As the accuracy of future Soviet missiles increases, it will be feasible for the Soviets to reduce the size of individual RV's and thereby to increase the number of MIRV's carried on each missile, assuming no external constraint such as that imposed by arms limitations.
It is also anticipated that the Soviets will develop solid-propellant ICBM's to supplement or replace some of the current liquid propellant systems. The SS-16, a small ICBM about the same size as the Minuteman, is a solid-propellant ICBM which was developed by the Soviets in the early seventies for mobile deployment. The system was never deployed.
Future solid-propellant ICBM development and deployment could give the Soviets additional flexibility in handling and in basing their missile forces. Future missiles are expected to include upgraded versions of the present systems as well as new missiles.
I will now discuss the Soviet SLBM force. The Soviets continue to expand and modernize their SLBM force, now consisting of some 62 submarines carrying 950 modern SLBM's with a total of almost 2,000 nuclear warhead reentry vehicles.
In the past 7 years, the U.S.S.R. has produced 30 SSBN's, and the new 20-tube, very large Typhoon SSBN was launched in 1980. This new SSBN/SLBM system will be operational in the mideighties and is expected to include the SS-NX-20 missile. The SS-N-8 and SSN-18 on Delta class SSBN's permit the Soviets to hit targets in the United States from their home ports, and it is possible that the Soviets will develop follow-on SLBM's for these as well as the SS-N-6 on the Yankee SSBN'.
The SS-N-6/Yankee I weapon system is composed of the liquidpropellant SS-N-6 missile and the 16-missile tube Yankee I Class SSBN submarine. The weapon system became operational in 1968.
There are different versions of the SS-N-6 SLBM. One version carries a single RV and has a maximum operational range of about 2,400 to 3,000 kilometers. Another version carries two RV's and was the first Soviet SLBM to carry multiple RV's. This SS-N-6 has a maximum operational range of about 3,000 kilometers.
The SS-N-8/Delta weapon system includes the long-range, twostage, liquid-propellant SS-N-8 SLBM and the 12-missile tube Delta I and 16-missile tube Delta II class SSBM submarines.
The SS-N-8 was a significant change from previous Soviet SLBM's, · even though liquid-propulsion technology was employed, because this was the first two-stage SLBM. The SS-N-8 has a maximum operational range of about 9,000 kilometers and carries one RV.
The S-N-18/Delta III weapon system is composed of the SS-N-18 two-stage, liquid-propellant, SLBM and the 16-missile tube Delta IIIclass SSBN.
The SS-N-18 is the first Soviet SLBM to demonstrate a MIRV capability. Its maximum operational booster range is about 6,500 to 8,000 kilometers, depending on the payload configuration. Greater range is possible if the S-N-18 postboost vehicle, or small third stage, is used to push the payload further along its trajectory, in addition to maneuvering to place reentry vehicles in line with intended targets. A single RV version is also operational.
With the advances achieved in other Soviet strategic missile programs, it is assumed the missile for the new Typhoon will be more capable than the SS-N-18 carried on the Delta III, possibly having greater range, better accuracy, higher payload, and more warheads. Today the Delta III submarines can cover most U.S. targets from the relative security of their home waters. The Typhoon, at 25,000 tons submerged displacement, twice the size of the Delta III, will certainly have no less capability.
Senator WARNER. If you could, make a comparison between the Typhoon and Trident with just a few sentences, please? I think I know, but it is wise to have it in the record.
Admiral BURKHALTER. It is about 60 percent larger, sir, than the Ohio class.
LONG RANGE AVIATION
Another arm of the Soviets' strategic capability is long-range aviation (LRA), which is comprised of more than 800 strike-and-support aircraft. Three-quarters of these are intermediate range TU-16/ Badger and TU-22/Blinder: the long-range force includes more than 150 TU-95/Bear and M-type/Bison, as well as some 70 Tupolev Backfires.
The primary mission of LRA is to perform intercontinental and peripheral nuclear or conventional strike operations. The force also performs long-range reconnaissance, antinaval strikes, and electronic warfare missions.
Soviet long-range bombers complement the land and sea-based strategic missile forces, and in the event of intercontinental nuclear war they probably would be employed in follow-on nuclear strikes after