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Title: Standoff Over the LRSO: Assessing the long-range stand-off missile's impact on strategic stability.

Abstract

Mutual vulnerability to strategic forces seems to remain the de facto foundation for strategic stability across the U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China dyadic relationships; This work has suggested the bomber force tasked with delivering the LRSO is characterized by relatively long flight times and rich signature sets which make its use inconsistent with the requirements for a disarming first-strike. Therefore, the LRSO would not be expected to disrupt mutual vulnerability by making a disarming strike more possible or attractive; Even if a stealthy air-launched cruise missile is paired with a stealth bomber aircraft, the signatures associated with bomber generation and aerial refueling from non-stealth tanker aircraft make it unlikely the LRSO could be launched against a peer or near-peer nation-state without advance warning; To the extent a nuclear armed air-launched cruise missile deters would-be U.S. adversaries from nuclear use, maintaining a survivable weapon system is crucial for maintaining that stable deterrent effect. A modern stand-off weapon and stealth delivery platform increase the probability this capability will be maintained in the future against other nations' increasingly capable A2/AD systems; The LRSO has been touted as a flexible option to deter, or conduct should deterrence fail, limited nuclear strikes pursuant to Russia's reported "escalate-to-deescalate"more » doctrine. The concept of limited nuclear use is still intensely debated, and there is no guarantee that escalation could be controlled even with tailored LRSO employment; The challenge of warhead discrimination has not historically led to a nuclear response to a cruise missile launch, but there is no guarantee that cannot change. Having accurate military intelligence coupled with discerning analysis of the context in which cruise missiles are employed (e.g., how escalated is the conflict, how many missiles have been launched, have there been signatures of strategic force mobilization, or has the nuclear threshold been crossed?) will likely be essential for reducing the danger of misperception. Developing norms and/or communication channels in the aforementioned dyadic relationships may also further these ends. In sum, this work has identified and analyzed many of the major arguments in the debate regarding the LRSO's impact on strategic stability. During this study and survey of other nation's conceptions of strategic stability, it became clear that the LRSO is neither inherently stabilizing or destabilizing; rather, it is one instrument in addition to unambiguous U.S. policy, clear messaging, and signaling of intent that may promote stability by reducing the risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1463954
Report Number(s):
SAND-2018-8582R
666762
DOE Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000; NA0003525
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Heimer, Brandon Walter. Standoff Over the LRSO: Assessing the long-range stand-off missile's impact on strategic stability.. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1463954.
Heimer, Brandon Walter. Standoff Over the LRSO: Assessing the long-range stand-off missile's impact on strategic stability.. United States. doi:10.2172/1463954.
Heimer, Brandon Walter. Wed . "Standoff Over the LRSO: Assessing the long-range stand-off missile's impact on strategic stability.". United States. doi:10.2172/1463954. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1463954.
@article{osti_1463954,
title = {Standoff Over the LRSO: Assessing the long-range stand-off missile's impact on strategic stability.},
author = {Heimer, Brandon Walter},
abstractNote = {Mutual vulnerability to strategic forces seems to remain the de facto foundation for strategic stability across the U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China dyadic relationships; This work has suggested the bomber force tasked with delivering the LRSO is characterized by relatively long flight times and rich signature sets which make its use inconsistent with the requirements for a disarming first-strike. Therefore, the LRSO would not be expected to disrupt mutual vulnerability by making a disarming strike more possible or attractive; Even if a stealthy air-launched cruise missile is paired with a stealth bomber aircraft, the signatures associated with bomber generation and aerial refueling from non-stealth tanker aircraft make it unlikely the LRSO could be launched against a peer or near-peer nation-state without advance warning; To the extent a nuclear armed air-launched cruise missile deters would-be U.S. adversaries from nuclear use, maintaining a survivable weapon system is crucial for maintaining that stable deterrent effect. A modern stand-off weapon and stealth delivery platform increase the probability this capability will be maintained in the future against other nations' increasingly capable A2/AD systems; The LRSO has been touted as a flexible option to deter, or conduct should deterrence fail, limited nuclear strikes pursuant to Russia's reported "escalate-to-deescalate" doctrine. The concept of limited nuclear use is still intensely debated, and there is no guarantee that escalation could be controlled even with tailored LRSO employment; The challenge of warhead discrimination has not historically led to a nuclear response to a cruise missile launch, but there is no guarantee that cannot change. Having accurate military intelligence coupled with discerning analysis of the context in which cruise missiles are employed (e.g., how escalated is the conflict, how many missiles have been launched, have there been signatures of strategic force mobilization, or has the nuclear threshold been crossed?) will likely be essential for reducing the danger of misperception. Developing norms and/or communication channels in the aforementioned dyadic relationships may also further these ends. In sum, this work has identified and analyzed many of the major arguments in the debate regarding the LRSO's impact on strategic stability. During this study and survey of other nation's conceptions of strategic stability, it became clear that the LRSO is neither inherently stabilizing or destabilizing; rather, it is one instrument in addition to unambiguous U.S. policy, clear messaging, and signaling of intent that may promote stability by reducing the risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation.},
doi = {10.2172/1463954},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {8}
}