No one should be surprised by orbital bombardment, although the glider is a nice touch. The Soviets deployed an orbital bombardment system in the 1970s. This is an old concept that is newly relevant as a way to defeat missile defenses.
I wrote a short thread last month on why I think orbital bombardment makes sense for Russia, China and North Korea -- especially if gliders mean they can improve accuracy.
But really, I've been banging on about orbital bombardment for several years now. It's obvious: The US put a missile defense system in Alaska to defend against missiles coming over the North Pole. What did you think Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang will do? Just give up?
China just used a rocket to put a space plane in orbit and the space plane glided back to earth. Orbital bombardment is the same concept, except you put a nuclear weapon on the glider and don’t bother with a landing gear.
Also, this is how arms races work. We put a missile defense in Alaska, China builds an orbital bombardment system to come up over the South Pole. It will go on like this, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, a forever race with no finish line.…

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Dr. Jeffrey Lewis

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @ArmsControlWonk

10 Oct
"I am concerned that using a dead drop location your friend prepares makes me very vulnerable."

No shit, dude.…
"I must consider the possibility that l am communicating with an adversary who has intercepted my first message and is attempting to expose me. Would not such an adversary wish me to go to a place of his choosing, knowing that an amateur will be unlikely to detect surveillance?"
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct
Glad to see the Biden Administration resuming the Obama-era practice of being transparent about the size of the US nuclear stockpile. A thread.
Funny story. George W. Bush dramatically reduced the size of the nuclear stockpile -- but never took credit for it because the stockpile size was secret. He cut the stockpile in half and then by a further 15 percent.
Bush's record on reducing the size of the US nuclear stockpile is excellent. But no one knew it. There were even stories that he had slowed the pace of dismantlement, stories that turned out to be false. The moral to the story is that doing the right thing isn't always enough.
Read 15 tweets
21 Sep
Still waiting on the transcript of Kendall's remarks, but I don't think we should dismiss the possibility of countries developing orbital bombardment systems, including China and North Korea. A short thread.
The Soviet Union developed a "fractional orbital bombardment system" (FOBS) in the 1960s. The Soviets deployed this system from 1969-1983. @historyasif wrote the best article on Soviet FOBS.…
(A word about the "F" in FOBS. The Soviets added "fractional" because, as a party to the Outer Space Treaty, it agreed "not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons..." It's a polite fiction.)
Read 13 tweets
17 Sep
I've noticed that some people are expressing skepticism that the DPRK could have acquired or developed a 1,500 km-range land-attack cruise missile. TL/DR: It's not 1978 any more.
A short thread.
Starting in 2014, North Korea showed ship-based copies of Russia's Kh-35 cruise missile. In 2017, North Korea test-fired a land-based variant of the Kh-35, called the Kumsong-3.
The Kh-35, also known as the Kharpunski, is a fairly capable 130 km-range cruise missile developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It used the R-95-300 turbofan engine. (The engine produces 300-400 kgf of thrust and weighs 95 kg).
Read 9 tweets
16 Sep
North Korea appears to be expanding the size of the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon by about 25 percent. @DaveSchmerler, @Joshua_Pollack and I think this may relate to growing weapons requirements for highly-enriched uranium.
"US officials acknowledge," @ZcohenCNN writes "those developments could signal plans to increase production of weapons-grade uranium, according to two sources familiar with the situation."…
Why now? In January, Kim Jong Un announced that "continuously push ahead with the production of super-sized nuclear warheads." That means thermonuclear weapons --and secondaries require a *lot* of HEU.
Read 4 tweets
12 Sep
North Korea tested a 1500 km-range cruise missile, which is capable of delivering a nuclear or conventional warhead against targets throughout South Korea and Japan. A short thread.
Kim Jong Un, in January, announced that North Korea had developed "intermediate-range cruise missiles" during his speech to the Worker's Party Congress. As a result, all the DPRK watchers I know had "LACM test" on their 2021 bingo cards. The national defence science sector developed the super-larg
At the time, Kim's remark caused a lot of us to reassess some launchers we saw at the October 2020 and January 2021 parades. The system tested looks a bit different from the one in the parade. One difference of several: The system tested today had five canisters instead of four.
Read 9 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!