The Soviet Skynet.

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The Soviet Skynet.

Postby RyanCrierie » Wed Nov 17, 2004 5:10 am

What follows is a description of the Soviet C3I complex as it was set up to
fight a nuclear war from the following message board Here,
by Stuart Slade Stuart's Biography


Stuart Slade wrote:That thought has occurred to a few other people
as well. I don't know if the makers of Terminator knew how the system
worked but its eerily close. Especially since the US considered a similar
approach a few years back. I said we had all the same pieces, we just
put them together in a different way - but that way isn't as different as
you might think. If somebody linked their system to our system, we
would be very, very close to Terminator's Skynet.


Stuart Slade wrote:OK; lets start from the ground up.

There has always been a problem with nuclear weaponry; its destructiveness
and the undesirability of giving some very junior officer in the back of beyond
power to use it is not a happy combination.

Destructiveness implies that the weapons should be held under a tight
centralized control. The problem then becomes, what happens when the
center that exerts that control is gone?

The obvious answer is to protect the center.

The Soviets did this by two ways. The first was physical protection.
They took the geolith of Zhiguli (Sea Skimmer found you the photograph
of the site - those hills in the background are actually part of a solid
homogenous piece of rock) and dug under it. That digging started in
1935 and has never stopped.

Zhiguli started with a command post alternate for the Kremlin and has
become steadily more important over the years. As bombs got bigger,
the Soviets dug deeper.

The other way of protecting the center is Maskirovka. The art of strategic
deception is one the Russians take very seriously and apply it right across
their whole military infrastructure. Every map, every railway guide,
every data entry is falsified. Cities shown on maps are sometimes tens
or hundreds of miles from their true positions. Some are not shown at all.
Some "cities" are, in reality, villages. Roads may or may not be there and
may or may not go where they are shown to. Any statistics in a Russian
encyclopedia or which use Russian official information as a source are
worthless. They are all part of Maskirovka. One part of that Maskirovka
was to grossly overstate the importance of Moscow itself. As a target or
strategic objective, Moscow is worthless. There is nothing there that
isn't duplicated and/or replicated elsewhere. For western eyes, Moscow
is the Holy Grail; take the city and Russia is beaten. To the Russians,
Moscow is a giant decoy and warhead sponge. These days its there
to draw fire from Zhiguli.

Massive protection and Maskirovka will only take us so far. It has to
be presumed that the center of centralized control will be found
and will be destroyed (the Russians must have been pleasantly
surprised that the importance of Zhiguli remained undetected as
long as it did). Now this is an important thing. The individual
components of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals are almost
identical (the differences are insignificant compared with their
similarities); they don't have anything we don't and vice versa.

The significant differences lie in how the bits are put together.
The US answer to the vulnerable center problem was to construct
a network of alternate sites that could take over command in the
event of the original center getting a terminal dose of instant sunrise.
To the Soviets, an alternative center is anathema; an alternative power
center can very easily become a rival power center and the Soviet
system only survived because it didn't tolerate rivals. They had to find
a different way around things

That different way was Perimetr. What the Russians did was construct
an automated command control system that absorbed the evidence,
analysed its implications and made the strategic decisions. This automated
system took information from ground stations, from satellites that spotted
the thermal signatures of missile launches and tracked the ballistic path of
missiles as they flew (After the first few seconds of flight, we know exactly,
to within a few inches, the ballistic trajectory that missile will follow - we know
just as exactly where it will be twenty minutes after launch - suddenly a light
should have clicked on - thats why its no big deal to shoot down an inbound
ICBM. Put a man in the right place and tell him when to swing and he can hit
the darn thing with a baseball bat). The Russians had identical satellites,
the catch was that theirs didn't work as well - you have no idea how much I
don't like using the words "nuclear command control" and "doesn't work very
well" in the same sentence.

Perimetr used information from OTHB radars, from direct scan radars,
anything that could be brought in. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it should.
Soviet Warships had a command system called "The Second Captain" that
took all the information from the ship's sensors, evaluated the tactical situation
and decided on the correct course of action. It then presented the decision
to the human captain for validation.

Perimetr was activated by the football (another case of an identical system
to the US being used for a different purpose). Once working, Perimetr was
continuously analysing data and making strategic decisions. It did not carry
out those decisions.

What it did was it presented the decisions to a human authority for review
and validation. Only if the Perimetr decision was validated would the system
proceed to the next stage. No validation; the system resets and starts again
(ie failed-safe). There was a priority list of those who could validate the
perimetr decisions. Top was Zhiguli; if that didn't respond Perimetr went to
the next; if it got static as a response, it went to the next until somebody answered
the phone. If nobody did, the system shut down and reset. I don't know the
exact structure but I presume that there was a different tree of stages depending
on who Perimetr contacted.

If it was Zhiguli then the system would follow one route; if the most senior level
to respond was the Navy SSV-33 or a 941, it would follow another, if it was
Soviet Air Force airborne command post it would follow a third. Each route
would lead it to another point where a human authority would be presented
with a decision and asked to validate it. Validation would be lead to the next
series of steps, failure to validate would reset the system and it would try again.

The best way to envisage this is as two ladders side by side with the humans
on one and Perimetr on the other. The decision goes down the Perimetr ladder
with each step being validated. No matter how many holes are blown in the
human ladder, Perimetr keeps looking for somebody who can validate its
decisions. Yet on the human ladder, each step is distinctly in a hierarchy so
there are no "alternatives" in the western sense. The "alternative" is an
automated machine that is (presumably) a highly dispersed and networked
system that is multiply redundant and can take serious damage before its
functionality is impaired.
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Postby Dimitris » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:09 am

Very interesting :D . I had read about the Perimeter system before, but didn't know of its exact mode of operation. Can you dig up the link for the exact thread of this discussion? I imagine there will be some interesting comments on that.
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Postby RyanCrierie » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:42 pm

Sunburn wrote:Can you dig up the link for the exact thread of this discussion?


Sadly, the board is on EZBOARD, and EZBoard automatically prunes,
so the farthest back the board goes is 10/30/03 :(
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Postby Chris Werb » Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:49 am

Although we can calculate the trajectory to within inches, it's important to remember that we can't calculate where missile warheads will impact to 'within inches' from their trajectory early in flight. Even if totally ballistic, the warhead still has to pass through the atmosphere at the other end. It it were true all we would have to do is install radar to track outbound missiles, put in a command link to the missile for course correction and the CEPs of purely ballistic missiles would be measured in inches. No need to bother with expensive correlation systems like those used in Pershing II warheads.
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Postby analog » Tue Nov 23, 2004 8:33 pm

It it were true all we would have to do is install radar to track outbound missiles, put in a command link to the missile for course correction and the CEPs of purely ballistic missiles would be measured in inches.


Given that modern encryption technology is probably safe, I'm still not sure I like the idea of command guided nuclear devices.

The rest of that is all very interesting and enlightening. 8)
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Postby Chris Werb » Wed Nov 24, 2004 11:32 am

analog wrote:
It it were true all we would have to do is install radar to track outbound missiles, put in a command link to the missile for course correction and the CEPs of purely ballistic missiles would be measured in inches.


Given that modern encryption technology is probably safe, I'm still not sure I like the idea of command guided nuclear devices.

The rest of that is all very interesting and enlightening. 8)


Some early ballistic missiles used radio links for course correction early in their trajectory - Atlas D and Corporal for instance relied on this system. The strange thing is that, early on, the US forces did not like the idea of guided nuclear weapons that were not command guided. This is one reason why the ASTOR torpedo and the Nuclear Terrier used command guidance and/or detonation. This obviously had its limitations. The US Army retired one tactical nuclear delivery system (Lacrosse) prematurely because that link could be jammed and thenceforth relied on ballistic (or at least self contained guidance) delivery systems. Some early cruise missiles also used radio links - the USAF Matador was replaced by the Mace which discarded the link.
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Postby Dimitris » Wed Nov 24, 2004 5:14 pm

Early command-guidance systems were popular as much for their relative accuracy (compared to the other methods of the day) as for their positive-control characteristics. This changed as autonomous guidance systems improved in reliability and performance, and combined with the realisation of the susceptibility of command-guided sets to natural or man-made interference.
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