A British nuclear Triad.

Some posts on the Secret Projects website where a UK HTP fueled IRBM has been discussed




There is an article by Mark Hempsell and Alan Bond on Black Arrow in the August JBIS edition titled 'A Technical Reappraisal of Black Arrow'...it discussed the possibility of a Black Arrow derived IRBM...and possible ICBM.....interesting reading.

Also, a more detailed discussion on this possibility in the the special anniversary edition of the BIS Space Chronicle out in September on the Black Arrow program.
 
. It might be possible to actually use the exhaust to propel the missile sort of like a bullet. This approach might aid submerged launch from submarines.

This popped up on Twitter a few weeks ago
Black Arrow SSBN.jpg


Along with a reply that 'If using peroxide missiles they'd mount them externally to the pressure hull and have blow out panels, like an Oscar II.'


If using a Black Arrow, got to wonder if the second stage could be increased in diameter to match the first stage so reduce the height.
 
How much of a triad does it need to be?

Does a single R7 like space site in northern Scotland, say near Dounreay power station, mostly for northerly space lunches but with a handful of dual use pads/silos?

Early on, it could be a Space luncher/Polaris/V bomber and then now simply Trident/Trident test silos/RAF cruise missile?
 
Ore have the RAF have a nuclear cruise missile like the Storm Shadow in service, you do not need these huge old bombers.
I believe there was indeed such a program in the final years of the Cold War as a replacement for the WE.177. It was called TASOM (Tactical Stand Off Missile). It was cancelled in the early 90’s, Storm Shadow was originally called CASOM, (Conventionally Armed…)
 
Planners identified several sites for Blue Streak. It seems that the first site and home of the OCU would have been the old RNAS Crail in Scotland. I'll need to dig out my book on the missile to see what other sites were considered, but putting an MRBM in silos was considered viable in a UK context.

At the start certainly, I believe Cumbria was considered as a location as well. But the Blue Streak started in 1954 and by 1959 the nature of the threat had changed such that silo MRBMs were considered too vulnerable to the '300 ballistic missiles in a minute' threat, especially given they wouldn't deploy until 1964-65 when presumably more powerful and/or accurate missiles would be the threat.
 
The interesting thing about the silos plan was that it was intended that the Blue Streak would be launched after a Soviet strike. The vulnerability argument was used as one of the reasons to cancel it. However, not adding dozens of extra potential targets to the U.K. was probably A Good Thing in the long run. Not that there were not already hundreds already.
 
The silos were pretty impressive, the problem of LOX boil off was handled by keeping the LOX tank on the missile pressurized with something else and the LOX seperate, using NO2 to blast the LOX into the missile in 3 1/2 minutes, as the gyros were spinning up. This way Britain could remain under Launch on Warning or Launch Under Attack posture.

They had various early warning radars as part of the Violet Friend ABM system, but apparently also could point a deep space radio telescope east and use it as a long range early warning radar.
 

Nick P

Donor
When @aaronupright wrote...

It was perfectly clear to me that he meant the following...That is a force of of strategic bombers, land-based strategic missiles and sea-based strategic missiles.

Therefore, when @aaronupright wrote...

It was perfectly clear to me that he meant the following...Which is 100% correct. However, there were two periods when it had two-thirds of of a strategic nuclear triad. That is...
  • From the late 1950s to the early 1960s when it had land and air-based strategic weapons at the same time, i.e. the V-bombers and Thor IRBMs.
  • The late 1960s when it had sea and air-based strategic weapons at the same time, i.e. the V-bombers and Resolution class SSBNs. However, this was only while the Polaris force was being "worked up". The V-bombers were transferred to the tactical nuclear role when the Polaris force achieved full operational capability.
WE.177, Honest John, Lance and Red Beard were tactical nuclear weapons and therefore don't count because they weren't part of the British strategic nuclear deterrent.

The British Army also operated the Corporal missile, but that was another tactical nuclear weapon. AFAIK/IIRC the RN first ship to take nuclear weapons to sea was Victorious in 1958 but they were to be used as tactically rather than strategically. FWIW I used to work with someone who was in the nuclear weapons section on Victorious in 1958 and he told me that they used to sit on the bombs while they ate their sandwiches.

Finally, a "point of order" is...I was going to say that you were making a "point of fact" but according to the online Macmillan Dictionary a "point of fact" is...

Gentlemen, I apologise profusely for stepping on your toes. It was clearly my mistake in not assuming that when @aaronupright wrote 'nuclear triad' he actually meant 'strategic nuclear triad'. My schoolteachers were very strong on 'answering the question being asked, not the one that you think is being asked'.
I also made the silly error of confusing land, sea and air based weapons by linking each to a particular service.

I shall now go to bed and dream of lying on green grass under a yellow sun beside blue water. In the morning I shall brush my red beard and ponder the finer points of points of order and fact.
 

Nick P

Donor
The interesting thing about the silos plan was that it was intended that the Blue Streak would be launched after a Soviet strike. The vulnerability argument was used as one of the reasons to cancel it. However, not adding dozens of extra potential targets to the U.K. was probably A Good Thing in the long run. Not that there were not already hundreds already.
I went to the former RAF Westcott a few years ago for a fascinating tour. This was used for testing rockets, engines and fuels by the Rocket Propulsion Establishment from 1946 to the 1990s. There are a number of original buildings on site which we were shown around, one being a huge concrete block the size of a house on which they tested the rocket engines.
At one side of the site was a pile of concrete octagons (like segments of concrete water pipe) just big enough for a man to climb inside. These were part of a 1/6 scale model of a Blue Streak silo that was trialled by lying it on the ground and firing a rocket motor inside to see what would happen to the inner layer and how much noise was produced.

From memory one main reason for not having missiles in the UK was that if a missile failed to launch correctly it was likely to land on somebody's house owing to the need to launch northwards and over the Pole. This may have related more to Woomera testing than nuclear silos.

Surely the Thor missiles, as a ground launched weapon, should have gone to the Royal Artillery. This could have followed on from the 1957 Defence White Paper (the infamous Sandys Review) which posited that much of the UK defence could be done with missiles and that the Army needed to shrink massively.
By giving the British Army the Thor squadrons it reduces the Army losses and secures them a strategic role in defending the UK. A lot of politics involved.
 
Surely the Thor missiles, as a ground launched weapon, should have gone to the Royal Artillery. This could have followed on from the 1957 Defence White Paper (the infamous Sandys Review) which posited that much of the UK defence could be done with missiles and that the Army needed to shrink massively.
By giving the British Army the Thor squadrons it reduces the Army losses and secures them a strategic role in defending the UK. A lot of politics involved.
Why would the politic involved of USAF sharing its weapon with the Army (Royal Artillery) rather than RAF not doom any attempt to do this due to domestic threats to USAF v US ARMY?
 
Why would the politic involved of USAF sharing its weapon with the Army (Royal Artillery) rather than RAF not doom any attempt to do this due to domestic threats to USAF v US ARMY?
Missiles are aircraft and therefor belong in the RAF. The RAF will graciously allow the Army short range missiles for tactical use because they can't be bothered to do it themselves.
 
Planners identified several sites for Blue Streak. It seems that the first site and home of the OCU would have been the old RNAS Crail in Scotland. I'll need to dig out my book on the missile to see what other sites were considered, but putting an MRBM in silos was considered viable in a UK context.

Cost wise, I think a triad would be too expensive for the UK. However, a dyad would probably be possible - SLBM with the RN and an air launched weapon of some kind (ALCM) for the RAF.
Bernard

Thanks very much for this, crail that's interesting , I might have look for the book you mention .😀
 
I'm really enjoying all the comments made here, but I fear they are getting seduced by the systems a little, the OP mentioned plausible, so my question would be ...

how is a nuclear strategic triad going to funded? What gets cut to pay for it?

What does the force structure look like?

What impact will it have on Britain's commitments, nato, rest of the world ect

And lastly how does it improve the defence of the realm?

As opposed to a submarine based deterrent that we bought in to?
 

McPherson

Banned
Have the UK build up a nuclear triad which still exists today.
While the UK has had land, sea, and air-based weapons, all three haven't occurred at the same time.
It does not have to be a US/USSR-Russia style system but even a limited French/Chinese triad of a few hundred warheads will suffice.
We obviously need a continuation of British ballistic missile research and development and deployment of British for a British version of an S3. I think the need for an air arm of the triad might lead to continued UK bomber production, so the V bomber followup, which I am calling the "W" Bombers (because its my thread). The W bombers might see British interest in Stealth and or ECM going forward.
An extant RAF bomber force will have reprecussions for British contributions in Iraq/Balkans/Afghanistan.

UK-triad.png


Only way it can be done.
 
The OP didn't state a PoD and it pretty much everyone, myself included has been looking at OTLs programmes and geopolitical and economic circumstances. But there's always another way.

A WW2 PoD, perhaps no Greek campaign, holding Crete and Rommel at Tobruk leaves Britain in much better economic health by 1945 so that she is better placed to afford the luxury of a strategic triad. Or a WW1 PoD a CP victory making Germany a superpower but making the British strategic triad task much easier.
 
Top