From recent news . . . .
“Russia could shift to preemptive nuclear strike doctrine — ex-chief of RVSN”
“Retaliatory nuclear strike command and control system ‘Perimeter’ has been modernized”
“Moscow. 9 November. INTERFAKS-AVN – Russia could renounce its retaliatory strike doctrine in favor of a preemptive nuclear attack on a potential aggressor, if the U.S. deploys missiles on the territory of European states, said General-Colonel Viktor Yesin, who led the Main Staff of the Missile Troops of Strategic Designation in 1994-1996.”
“‘If the Americans start deploying their missiles in Europe, we have no choice but to abandon a retaliatory strike doctrine and move to a preemptive strike doctrine,’ V. Yesin said in an interview published in the weekly ‘Zvezda.’”
“He also said the Soviet-created ‘command’ missile system ‘Perimeter’ capable of transmitting launch commands to intercontinental missiles after an enemy nuclear strike on Russia has been modernized.”
“‘The ‘Perimeter’ system is functioning, and it is even improved,’ said V. Yesin.”
“Answering the question if the ‘Perimeter’ system can guarantee a retaliatory strike in the case of an enemy preemptive attack, the general said: ‘When it is working, we will already have few means remaining – we can launch only the missiles which survive after the aggressor’s first strike.’”
“The expert also stated that ‘we still don’t have an effective response to American medium-range missiles in Europe.’”
“‘Perimeter’ (in English Dead Hand) is an automated command and control system for a massive nuclear retaliatory strike developed in the USSR. According to open information, the ‘Perimeter’ system was created as a component part of the Airborne Command Post (VKP) system under the codename ‘Link’ developed in the Soviet Union.”
“The airborne command and control post on the Il-86VKP aircraft, airborne radio relay on the Il-76RT, silo-based command missile (KR) ‘Perimeter’ and mobile KR ‘Gorn’¹ were part of ‘Link.’”
“In a crisis period three Il-86VKP would have had the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff on board.”
“‘The aircraft didn’t have passenger windows so those on-board wouldn’t be blinded by the flash of nuclear blasts. Computers and communications were located in the nose. Two electrical power generators were hung under the wings. They guaranteed long operation of all aircraft systems,’ it says in a book from the series ‘World of Russian Weapons’ published in 2016.”
“At the determined moment the Il-86VKP would launch an 8 km long antenna which not even impulses from nuclear explosions could affect. Using this antenna the aircraft would transmit commands to launch all the country’s intercontinental missiles even in the event that all underground KP [trans. command posts] were destroyed by the aggressor’s nuclear strike.”
“The radio relay aircraft Il-76RT would transmit commands to launch missiles in distant regions, including those deployed on submarines in the Northern and Pacific Fleets.”
“‘Perimeter’ and ‘Gorn’ missiles could have transmitted missile launch commands when the aggressor had already delivered a surprise first strike and destroyed communications systems. The KR, having launched into space, where no satellite or enemy nuclear explosions could reach them, would transmit radio signals from there. The missiles ‘awakened’ by them would take off and strike the aggressor.”
“The ‘Perimeter’ missiles were reliably protected on the ground by concrete silos. ‘Gorns’ deployed on missile transporters permanently on the move.”
“According to expert assessments, the ‘Link’ system, including space KR, was one of the most important factors deterring the U.S. from a nuclear attack on the USSR.”
An interesting piece bringing Perimeter back into the news. Yesin calls the system Dead Hand. But he doesn’t describe how the system is engaged, any atmospheric, seismic, and radiation sensors, or ground-based command, control, and communications link monitors that some claim allowed it to function autonomously. Others assert these elements, though considered, were never incorporated into Perimeter.
Russian military commentator Viktor Murakhovskiy has pointed out that, even if the U.S. quits the INF Treaty, Washington is a long way from deploying new intermediate- or shorter-range nuclear missiles in Europe. So Yesin’s recommendation for a change in Moscow’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is premature.
¹ Command missile Gorn [trans. bugle, trumpet, etc.] had GRAU index 15Zh53and deployed with Soviet SS-20 IRBMs.