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March 31, 2006

US to test bunkerbuster "Divine Strake"

The US announced plans to test a huge non-nuclear "bunkerbuster" bomb in Nevada in early June. They call the bomb "Divine Strake". And instead of giving their weapon a name that everyone will assume is a typo, why don't they just call it "Flaming Sword of Christ" and get it over with?

So, what's a strake?

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Comments

divine piece-of-a-boat?

divine aeronautical-air-flow-control-device?

divine tool-for-tamping-down-a-mould?

even with the definition(s) of "strake" it's still a really really crappy name.

I think it is Divine Stake...for killing vampires obviously.

Perhaps they were going for this definition (from the OED):
6. A ray, beam of light. Obs.

The cited quotations seem appropriate:

1594 NASHE Terrors Nt. Wks. 1904 I. 354 Bloody streamers, blasing Comets, firie strakes. a1633 AUSTEN Medit. (1635) 28 So..Followes him a heavenly strake, Darting Light through all his path. 1825 R. CARRUTHERS in F. Miller Poets Dumfriesh. (1910) 224 In quiet lang straiks the holie licht lay On the swaird.

They should just call it "George W. Bush's Giant Exploding Penis".

It gets the immediate point across and it accurately sums up the entire geopolitical mindset of his administration.

Dan

Please keep your fantasies to yourself.

The Phantom

Scalia Chin Laden (geLADEN means loaded in German)

"So, what's a strake?"
In this instance, it's a sign that the Iranian leadership should give up their nuclear weapons program.

In this instance, it's a sign that the Iranian leadership should give up their nuclear weapons program.

Agreed. Which is is fine. At least it isn't a nuke. If I had any confidence in the intelligence gathering abilities of US military or the CIA, I'd support some kind of Osirak-type strike on Iran's nuclear program. However, my fear is that they will botch this job, unleash a region-wide Shia uprising, and have Iran get the bomb anyway.


Why the announcement that DOD is going to test a non-nuclear bunker-buster? The following is my personal analysis.

Several months ago Senator Dianne Feinstein announced the successful elimination of $4,000,000 for development and testing of a nuclear bunker-buster (NBB) in the current budget. You can read her statement on her senate website. http://feinstein.senate.gov/05releases/r-bunkerbustervic.htm

There is no question that an NBB, as envisioned by the DOD, is an incredible and, probably, a very effective first-strike weapon. No one seriously disputed one of the technical arguments against it, that a great deal of radioactive material would be unleashed into the immediate blast vicinity. The use of an NBB as a credible first strike weapon is clearly aimed at the likes of Iran and North Korea. We know it, they know it, and everyone else knows it.

Senator Feinstein and others were supportive of research on a conventional, non-nuclear, bunker-buster (CBB). So here we are with the DOD announcing the test of the CBB. So does this mean that the development of an NBB is off the table, at least for the rest of this fiscal year? NOT REALLY!

The current test of a CBB has at least two technical objectives, and one political objective. The obvious one is to see if a CBB can be effective against deep, hardened targets at a depth of 1,500 feet. The other technical objective is to gather information for the eventual use of an NBB. It is my understanding that the physics of the problem do not allow sufficient penetration of the earth for a CBB to be sufficiently effective under wartime conditions. By the same token, penetration is not sufficient to prevent the surface distribution of radioactive material from an NBB. However, it is very likely the target would be neutralized by an NBB. Data from VERY BIG conventional detonations have been used in the development of nuclear weapons since before the first A-bomb at Trinity.

The deliterious effects of surface dispersion of radioactivity, in a preemptive strike, is balanced against the damage to us, or an ally, if they strike first. Whether we like it or not, we have an administration and a policy that praises (AND USES) the doctrine of preemption. The assessment of the threat, and the decision to preempt with NBBs, will never be made by DOD and 'think tank' game players who are solving simultaneous equations with a super-computer. It will be a political decision that was already determined in an agenda that was never disclosed to the American electorate, let alone debated.

As for the political objective, we have another race to the nuclear brink, this time with Iran and North Korea. (China also figures in the equation, but that is for another discussion at a later time.) Either Iran and North Korea will capitulate (with lots of diplomatic niceties and face-saving), or we will be told that the negative effects of “an acceptable” amount of surface radiation, was more than offset by the millions of lives that were saved by the preemptive strike with multiple NBBs.

I've not argued about what is good or bad, what is right or wrong, or whether a preemptive doctrine is appropriate. What I am saying is that the DOD and this administration want the NBB in the worst way. You readers know that the cruise missles used in both Gulf wars and in attempts to kill Al Queda leaders were, originally, nuclear tipped. The nuclear warheads were simply swapped with conventional warheads. Guess how long it would take to replace the nuclear warheads on cruise missles. Whatever your answer, the time is the same for transforming the CBBs into NBBs.

Norman - in addition to your excellent analysis, it's worth noting that considerable work was done in the 1950s on nuclear shaped charges (CASABA HOWITZER is the code name IIRC). It is almost certain that a NBB would use shaped charges (or more accurately directed energy).

If the problem really is deep bunkers (as opposed to continued funding for Los Alamos) then a variant on Thor, the Reagan-era space based kinetic energy weapon, would make more sense. Thor doesn't have to be space based - it can be launched from US based silos. The basic idea is to drop a huge tungsten rod on the enemy at velocities so high that the kinetic energy exceeds the energy of an equivalent mass of high explosive by an order of magnitude. One nice feature of Thor is that it tends to deposit most of its energy at a depth of several hundred meters, making it ideal as a bunker buster.

I believe that NBB is much more about keeping Los Alamos ticking over than it is about a real threat. The existing weaponeers are aging, and many of the people working in X division have never seen a nuclear explosion, let alone designed and tested one. There is a huge effort going into making sure that there are people able to design and build the next generation of nuclear weapons if the need (or desire) should arise. As a plasma physicist I occasionally run into X division people at conferences. Unusual people, to say the least. Interestingly, some of the most hardcore nuclear disarmament advocates I've ever met are former X division scientists. Something about dreams of children with their skin melted off, I suppose.

There is an interesting review, taken in 2005, of the Non-proliferation Treaty, at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/2005/conference_paper.htm>globalsecurity.org. They cast nuclear proliferation in the light of states like Iran, North Korea, Israel, and others, now having the bomb.

I continue to feel that there is much danger from North Korea, and I wish that our diplomacy were more geared to smoothing things with them. Kim Jong-Il is paranoid, and his country is starving, and is in a shambles economically, which only increases the stress. Observe his responses when he feels we've insulted him. They're not just canned demagogue speeches--they always have the fierce, combative urgency of one who feels truly threatened. North Korea has: many decades-old MiG-21s, and not much new hardware, but also: several nukes; over a million regulars in the armed forces, and about 4.5 million--yes, 4.5 million--reservists. Don't tweak the paranoid.

We are also plainly casting China as an up-and-coming rival, and some of the pieces at globalsecurity mention the NBB in light of this. The Walrus, a Canadian international affairs magazine, opined last year that our Iraq war might possibly have been a stone in a Contain-China policy. In this construct, our recent cooperative efforts in helping India become a "21st century military power--with a full understanding of all that that entails," as one of our generals darkly put it, would be the keystone of such a policy. This would at least mean that the Iraq war made some kind of sense, as it didn't otherwise, in my opinion.


Togolosh:

I agree with your observation that the DOD and DOE objectives include the development and maintenance of a cadre of nuclear weapons experts to design and build the next generation of both fission and fusion weapons. Also, it's nice to know that the Andre Sacharovs of the world might develop a redeeming conscience late in life, but many civilization-ending bombs get built in the process of personal redemption.

I'm not as optimistic as you about the possibility of DOD foregoing NBB weapons in favor of CBBs. Readers may want to check out the following report: http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/030528.htm

Strake is from 16th Century English, and is the imperfect tense (what we call the past progressive), of the verb to strike. This usage is found in both the King James Version of the Bible, and in Spenser's Faerie Queen. I think there are very few DoD employees who've read the Faeire Queen in the original, but there are too damn many of them who display their bibles on their desks.

Thus, a Divine Strake can be seen as a strike which came from God.

There is a whole cabal of neocons at the pentagon who use these obscure biblical referents as code names for weapons programs. One of the most infamous is commonly called "The Rods from God", an orbital kinetic energy weapon.

IDiots.

And just think, the CBB is much too bug to be airlifted to a target, so if this isn't just a pre-nuclear test, what is the purpose?

Strake is from 16th Century English, and is the imperfect tense (what we call the past progressive), of the verb to strike. This usage is found in both the King James Version of the Bible, and in Spenser's Faerie Queen. I think there are very few DoD employees who've read the Faeire Queen in the original, but there are too damn many of them who display their bibles on their desks.

Thus, a Divine Strake can be seen as a strike which came from God.

There is a whole cabal of neocons at the pentagon who use these obscure biblical referents as code names for weapons programs. One of the most infamous is commonly called "The Rods from God", an orbital kinetic energy weapon.

IDiots.

And just think, the CBB is much too big to be airlifted to a target, so if this isn't just a pre-nuclear test, what is the purpose?

Strake is from 16th Century English, and is the imperfect tense (what we call the past progressive), of the verb to strike. This usage is found in both the King James Version of the Bible, and in Spenser's Faerie Queen. I think there are very few DoD employees who've read the Faeire Queen in the original, but there are too damn many of them who display their bibles on their desks.

Thus, a Divine Strake can be seen as a strike which came from God.

There is a whole cabal of neocons at the pentagon who use these obscure biblical referents as code names for weapons programs. One of the most infamous is commonly called "The Rods from God", an orbital kinetic energy weapon.

IDiots.

And just think, the CBB is much too big to be airlifted to a target, so if this isn't just a pre-nuclear test, what is the purpose?

REally I think, the boy you gotta see the size of my d**K bomb was taken...
Also THere is a church/ Jesuit School in Texas called Strake, in Houston....all praise Zeus....

If they replaced the 'i' in 'strike' with an 'a' to make 'strake' maybe this is a hint they will secretly replace the conventional explosives with an 'A'-bomb too?

MAJIKTHISE!
Just found your website,searching for info. "Divine Strake", is
really bugging me to the
point of doing some editorials in the Las Vegas Tribune, and my local paper, Salt Lake
Tribune. Why,you ask? I
was raised on a farm about
130 miles from the Nevada
Test Site. During the 60's
and early 70's, the blasts
were incredible.The whole
ground would shake, and
normally it would crack
some glass.One time I was
in the field, a blast came
and I fell to the ground.I
would say that about 30%
of the blasts were
"unannounced". Our farm was about 2 hours away from St.George,Utah. I had
some friends there.Everbody knew of someone who had some form
of cancer, mostly thyroid,
completly off the charts of normal radioactivity. I
learned in school that most radioactive substances have a half-life of about 10,000 years. Were not even close. So, if Divine Strake does happens, and
disturbs the sandy soils
into the air,it will be
just a repeat of the past.
Everybody pleads the "5th"
that no radioactivity would be released.But I,
for one, will sign a petition for criminal charges against the goverment for negligence,
should anyone be harmed.
Look at Chernoble.Actually
little damage was done,but
the cloud that was sent up
ended in Europe,causing
untold damage to crops,
livestock,wild mushrooms,
(a major employer),etc.
By the way, one of your
readers indicated that the
bomb cannot be airlifted.I
assure you that it can. I
have worked for the Reagan
and H.W.Bush administrations,and I have
several contacts in the
industry still. (Just a note to you, if you are
looking for honest,and
ethical "scandle" (hah!),
that has not been exposed
to the public,let me know.

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