A speculative scenario describes how nonnuclear weapons for strategic intercontinental warfare might be deliberately developed and introduced by the Soviets. Its purpose is to stimulate thinking about nonnuclear strategic weapons, not to predict them. It is not based on fact or evidence: An SS-17 launch monitored in the Aleutians was analyzed and determined to have an unusual trajectory and to give off hundreds of sparkling objects. Subsequent analysis of the sparkler patterns showed that on the ground they would be rectangles, probably threatening even the most internal U.S. airbases with destruction of exposed planes. Protecting airbases necessitated buying fewer planes. The Air Force countered with two nonnuclear payloads for Minuteman, one that could threaten Soviet aircraft and one with precision guided charges, thus beginning the nonnuclear strategic arms race of the twenty-first century.
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.