A Cold War Historian After a close-to-war meeting, the two superpowers engage in some much needed tension relief.
Reproduced here with permission from the author. For more than twenty years, the state of Alaska was the first stop for Soviet bombers on the way to the lower Flying over Alaska was the shortest distance between Soviet bomber bases in Russia and strategic targets in the lower The United States recognized this threat and initiated many programs to give early warning of a Soviet bomber attack and to defend against this attack.
After the Second World War, the United States recognized that the tension and competition between the west and the Soviet Union increased to a point that intercontinental nuclear war, characterized by large numbers of nuclear bombs being delivered by fleets of Soviet bombers and later intercontinental ballistic missiles, was a very real threat.
This led the United States to develop Cold and hot tensions of the advanced air defense capability designed to intercept and neutralize a Soviet bomber attack.
This very important capability allowed nuclear explosions to bring down Soviet bombers flying in high altitude formations.
In either case, mission accomplished. The systems were organized into area defenses employing firing sites, called batteries. Each battery employed a series of acquisition and tracking radars which identified and tracked incoming airborne targets.
Each firing battery had a secured area which contained the radar equipment and controlled the entire operation of the battery, including the firing of the missiles with nuclear warheads.
Each firing battery was an independent site, with power generators, troop housing and administrative area, and the ability to perform its mission with little outside help. Each firing battery had enlisted and officer personnel and was supported by on-site civilian personnel.
Maintenance and technical support functions were provided by an off-site military direct support ordinance company which maintained the radars, computer, and warheads. Each firing battery was a highly secured site, with double fencing, razor wire and roving security patrols comprised of military police personnel and large sentry dogs.
Since nuclear weapons were being secured, the roving guards were armed and were authorized to use deadly force against intruders if necessary. The acquisition radars could see more than miles out, and the missiles had an altitude capability in excess offeet, a range more than 88 miles, and could reach speeds in excess of 3, miles per hour Mach 3.
Each site could engage a target and launch a missile every 2 minutes and would direct the missile to a specific burst point, above and in the front of the oncoming Soviet bombers. The nuclear warheads came in several sizes, the largest of which had a yield of 40 kilotons roughly 3 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb.
Major target areas, such as New York, Washington, D. Other defense areas were located around major military bases Strategic Air Command bases which were the home to the United States bomber fleet, for example and around other strategic locations nuclear weapons production facilities and major military headquarters.
The AADCAP provided command and control of the firing batteries and directed the air defense battle, integrating the activities of the firing batteries, Air Force fighter interceptors, and other air defense resources.
With each Alaskan firing battery armed with 14 NIKE HERCULES missiles carrying a nuclear warhead with a yield ranging from 20 kilotons to 40 kilotons, the total nuclear yield of the Alaska air defense missile sites was more than 5 meta-tons of nuclear destruction.
The missile sites were organized under two battalions and were part of the 87th Artillery Group headquartered at Fort Richardson and under the command of the United States Army Alaska.
However, the interceptors were armed with air to air missiles which carried small nuclear warheads with only one tenth the yield of the NIKE HERCULES warheads and which would do only initial damage to the large numbers of Soviet bombers which would come.
The Anchorage defense consisted of three firing batteries plus a headquarters battery for administrative control. The Anchorage batteries were initially supported by the th Ordinance Detachment and later by the th Ordinance Company, both of which provided direct maintenance support and technical support of the sites and the nuclear weapons.
For example, instead of the underground missile storage magazines used in the lower 48, the Alaskan missiles were stored above ground in reinforced concrete bunkers. Construction of the Alaskan sites required careful planning and design to allow for the unique weather and terrain.
Site Summit, located more than 4, feet above Anchorage, was especially difficult to build. The IFC battery control area was placed on top of an area in which 60 vertical feet had to be blasted off of the mountaintop and more than 25, cubic yards of rock removed to make an area for the site. Concrete for the battery control buildings, which were anchored to the ground with steel rods anchored in concrete pads due to the high wind conditions, and the missile magazine bunkers, had to be poured In weather conditions conducive to pouring concrete, conditions which were hard to achieve due to constant extreme weather.
These unique conditions added significantly to the costs to build Site Summit. In October,it was clear that tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were reaching the boiling point. The troops were at this status for more than 30 days, as President Kennedy dealt with the crisis. However, although the nuclear warheads were not armed, the warheads were part of the missile tangle in the magazines which had to be rendered safe, then sorted out, inspected, and secured.
Millions of dollars were pumped into the local economy as a result of the sites. Long time Anchorage residents would remember the large Christmas star which was placed below the launch area of Site Summit.Cold War tensions increased, then eased, then increased again over the years.
The changes came as both sides attempted to influence political and economic developments around the world.
For example, the Soviet Union provided military, economic, and technical aid to communist governments in Asia. The Origins of the Cold War involved the breakdown of relations between the Soviet Union versus the United States, Great Britain and their allies in the years – From the American-British perspective, first came diplomatic confrontations stretching back decades, followed by the issue of political boundaries in Central Europe and political non-democratic control of the East by the.
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