British and French Strategic Forces

Response Options to Soviet Ballistic Missile Defense

by James C. Wendt


Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.4 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback35 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

Both the British and the French have developed independent nuclear forces that represent potentially serious retaliatory threats to the Soviet Union. This paper briefly reviews the rationale for having these nuclear forces, current and potential strategic postures, and targeting capabilities and possibilities. Over the next 10 to 15 years, both the British and the French are scheduled to greatly expand and modernize their strategic forces. However, during this same period, the Soviets might deploy some form of ballistic missile defense that would reduce their effectiveness. This possibility is examined, and the British and French response options (cruise missiles, change of targeting, defense suppression, decoys and penetration aids, and increased attack size) are considered. The author concludes that the British could probably substantially increase the size of their threat by increasing the number of reentry vehicles carried by their missiles. The French do not have the flexibility to increase their threat size as quickly, but they are known to be concentrating on developing decoys and penetration aids. In view of these response options, providing an effective defense would be a formidable task for the Soviets.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.