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Encyclopedia > Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
The MIRVed U.S. Peacekeeper missile, with the re-entry vehicles highlighted in red.
The MIRVed U.S. Peacekeeper missile, with the re-entry vehicles highlighted in red.

A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) is a collection of nuclear weapons carried on a single intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Using a MIRV warhead, a single launched missile can strike several targets, or fewer targets redundantly. By contrast a unitary warhead is a single warhead on a single missile. M.I.R.V. is a band based in San Francisco, California known for its somewhat eclectic musical style and on stage antics. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (800x665, 71 KB) Schematic drawing of a U.S. MX Missile (Peacekeeper) with W87 warheads indicated. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (800x665, 71 KB) Schematic drawing of a U.S. MX Missile (Peacekeeper) with W87 warheads indicated. ... Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... A Minuteman III ICBM test launch from Vandenberg AFB, California, United States. ... French M45 SLBM and M51 SLBM Submarine-launched ballistic missiles or SLBMs are ballistic missiles delivering nuclear weapons that are launched from submarines. ...

Technicians secure a number of Mk-21 re-entry vehicles on a Peacekeeper MIRV bus.
Technicians secure a number of Mk-21 re-entry vehicles on a Peacekeeper MIRV bus.

The military purpose of a MIRV is fourfold: W87 warhead on MIRV bus. ... W87 warhead on MIRV bus. ... Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ...

  • Provides greater target damage for a given missile payload. Radiation (including radiated heat) from a nuclear warhead diminishes as the square of the distance (called the inverse-square law), and blast pressure diminishes as the cube of the distance. For example at a distance of 4 km from ground zero, the blast pressure is only 1/64th that of 1 km. Due to these effects several small warheads cause much more target damage area than a single large one. This in turn reduces the number of missiles and launch facilities required for a given destruction level.
  • With single warhead missiles, one missile must be launched for each target. By contrast with a MIRV warhead, the post-boost (or bus) stage can dispense the warheads against multiple targets across a broad area.
  • Reduces the impact of SALT treaty limitations. The treaty initially limited number of missiles, not number of warheads. Adding multiple warheads per missile provided more target destruction for a given number of missiles.
  • Reduces the effectiveness of an anti-ballistic missile system that relies on intercepting individual warheads. While a MIRVed attacking missile can have multiple (3–12 on various United States missiles) warheads, interceptors can only have one warhead per missile. Thus, in both a military and economic sense, MIRVs render ABM systems less effective, as the costs of maintaining a workable defense against MIRVs would greatly increase, requiring multiple defensive missiles for each offensive one.

MIRVed land-based ICBMs were considered destabilizing because they tended to put a premium on striking first. MIRVs threatened to rapidly increase the US's deployable nuclear arsenal and thus the possibility that it would have enough bombs to destroy virtually all of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons and negate any significant retaliation. Later on the US feared the Soviet's MIRVs because Soviet missiles had a greater throw-weight and could thus put more warheads on each missile than the US could. For example the US MIRVs might have increased their warhead per missile count by a factor of 6 while the Soviets increased theirs by a factor of 10. Furthermore, the US had a much smaller proportion of its nuclear arsenal in ICBMs than the Soviets. Bombers could not be outfitted with MIRVs so their capacity would not be multiplied. Thus the US did not seem to have as much potential for MIRV usage as the Soviets. However, the US had a larger number of SLBMs, which could be outfitted with MIRVs, and helped offset the ICBM disadvantage. It is because of this that this type of weapon was banned under the START II agreement. However, START II was never ratified by the Russian Duma due to disagreements about the ABM Treaty. It has been suggested that Guided missile be merged into this article or section. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 18 km (60,000 feet) above the epicenter. ... This diagram shows how the law works. ... The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties refers to two rounds of bilateral talks and corresponding international treaties between the Soviet Union and United States, the Cold War superpowers, on the issue of armament control. ... An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles. ... In nuclear strategy, first strike capability is a countrys ability to defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal to the point where the attacking country can survive the weakened retaliation. ... Throw-weight is a measure of the effective weight of ballistic missile payloads. ... French M45 SLBM and M51 SLBM Submarine-launched ballistic missiles or SLBMs are ballistic missiles delivering nuclear weapons that are launched from submarines. ... START II, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin in January 1993, which banned the use of MIRVs and hence often cited as De-MIRV-ing Agreement. ... The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM treaty or ABMT) was a treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons. ...


The Russian government claimed to have developed the most advanced MIRV system as of 2006 for use in the Bulava missile. The Bulava (Russian: , “the mace”) is a Submarine-launched ballistic missile under development in Russia. ...

Contents

Mode of operation

In a MIRV, the main rocket motor (or booster) pushes a "bus" (see illustration) into a freely-falling suborbital ballistic flight path. After the boost phase the bus maneuvers using on-board small rocket motors and a computerised inertial guidance system. It takes up a ballistic trajectory that will deliver a reentry vehicle containing a warhead to a target, and then releases a warhead on that trajectory. It then maneuvers to a different trajectory, releasing another warhead, and repeats the process for all warheads. A booster in space-related applications is usually a solid rocket booster: a solid fuel rocket of which two or more are attached to the main rocket to provide the main thrust in the initial phase of the rockets flight. ... A sub-orbital spaceflight (or sub-orbital flight) is a spaceflight that does not involve putting a vehicle into orbit. ... An inertial guidance system consists of an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) combined with a set of guidance algorithms and control mechanisms, allowing the path of a vehicle to be controlled according to the position determined by the inertial navigation system. ... Atmospheric entry is the transition from the vacuum of space to the atmosphere of any planet or other celestial body. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 18 km (60,000 feet) above the epicenter. ...

Minuteman III MIRV launch sequence:1. The missile launches out of its silo by firing its first stage boost motor (A). 2. About 60 seconds after launch, the 1st stage drops off and the second stage motor (B) ignites. The missile shroud is ejected. 3. About 120 seconds after launch, the third stage motor (C) ignites and separates from the 2nd stage. 4. About 180 seconds after launch, third stage thrust terminates and the Post-Boost Vehicle (D) separates from the rocket. 5. The Post-Boost Vehicle maneuvers itself and prepares for re-entry vehicle (RV) deployment. 6. The RVs, as well as decoys and chaff, are deployed during backaway (unlike the figure suggests this occurs at the start of the midcourse phase, so during ascent) 7. The RVs and chaff re-enter the atmosphere at high speeds and are armed in flight. 8. The nuclear warheads detonate, either as air bursts or ground bursts.
Minuteman III MIRV launch sequence:
1. The missile launches out of its silo by firing its first stage boost motor (A).
2. About 60 seconds after launch, the 1st stage drops off and the second stage motor (B) ignites. The missile shroud is ejected.
3. About 120 seconds after launch, the third stage motor (C) ignites and separates from the 2nd stage.
4. About 180 seconds after launch, third stage thrust terminates and the Post-Boost Vehicle (D) separates from the rocket.
5. The Post-Boost Vehicle maneuvers itself and prepares for re-entry vehicle (RV) deployment.
6. The RVs, as well as decoys and chaff, are deployed during backaway (unlike the figure suggests this occurs at the start of the midcourse phase, so during ascent[1])
7. The RVs and chaff re-enter the atmosphere at high speeds and are armed in flight.
8. The nuclear warheads detonate, either as air bursts or ground bursts.

Details are closely-held military secrets. The bus's on-board propellant limits the distances between targets of individual warheads to perhaps a few hundred km[1]. Some warheads may use small hypersonic airfoils during the descent to gain additional cross-range distance. It is possible the buses can release decoys to confuse interception devices and radars, such as aluminized balloons or electronic noisemakers. Image File history File links Minuteman_III_MIRV_path. ... Image File history File links Minuteman_III_MIRV_path. ... The LGM-30 Minuteman is a United States nuclear missile, a land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). ... A military secret is secret information that is purposely not made available to the general public (and hence to any enemy) by the military in order to gain an advantage, not reveal a weakness, avoid embarrassment, or to help in propaganda efforts. ... A propellant is a material that is used to move an object by applying a motive force. ... Boeing X-43 at Mach 7 In aerodynamics, hypersonic speeds are speeds that are highly supersonic. ... An airfoil (or aerofoil in British English) is a specially shaped cross-section of a wing or blade, used to provide lift or downforce, depending on its application. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Radar (disambiguation). ...

Testing of the Peacekeeper re-entry vehicles, all eight (ten capable) fired from only one missile. Each line represents the path of a warhead which, were it live, would detonate with the explosive power of twenty-five Hiroshima-style weapons.
Testing of the Peacekeeper re-entry vehicles, all eight (ten capable) fired from only one missile. Each line represents the path of a warhead which, were it live, would detonate with the explosive power of twenty-five Hiroshima-style weapons.

Accuracy is crucial, because doubling the accuracy decreases the needed warhead energy by a factor of four for radiation damage and by a factor of eight for blast damage. Navigation system accuracy and the available geophysical information limits the warhead target accuracy. Some writers believe that government-supported geophysical mapping initiatives and ocean satellite altitude systems such as Seasat may have a covert purpose to map mass concentrations and determine local gravity anomalies, in order to improve accuracies of ballistic missiles. Accuracy is expressed as circular error probable (CEP). This is simply the radius of the circle that the warhead has a 50 percent chance of falling into when aimed at the center. CEP is about 90–100 m for the Trident II and Peacekeeper missiles. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (3000x2272, 761 KB) LG-118A Peacekeeper missile system being tested at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (3000x2272, 761 KB) LG-118A Peacekeeper missile system being tested at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. ... Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ... A post-war Little Boy casing mockup. ... Seasat (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech) Seasat was the first Earth-orbiting satellite designed for remote sensing of the Earths oceans and had onboard the first spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR). ... Gravity anomalies are widely used in geodesy and geophysics. ... In the military science of ballistics, Circular Error Probability or circular error probable (CEP) is a simple measure of a weapon systems precision. ... This article contains technical information about the Trident ballistic missile. ... Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ...


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
MIRV

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... “Reentry” redirects here. ... The M45 SLBM is the French Navys submarine launched ballistic missile. ... The M51 SLBM is the future French Navys submarine launched ballistic missile, designed to replace the M45 SLBM. In French terminology the MSBS - Mer-Sol-Balistique-Strategique (Sea-ground-Strategic ballistic missile) Each missile carries six independently targetable TN-76 thermonuclear warheads. ... The maneuverable reentry vehicle (abbreviated MARV or MaRV) is a type of nuclear warhead capable of shifting targets in flight. ... A Multiple Reentry vehicle payload for a ballistic missile deploys multiple warheads in a pattern against a single target. ... This article is about nuclear war as a form of actual warfare, including history. ... The Poseidon missile was the second US Navy ballistic missile system, powered by a two-stage solid fuel rocket. ... START II, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin in January 1993, which banned the use of MIRVs and hence often cited as De-MIRV-ing Agreement. ...

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b http://www.airliners.net/discussions/military/read.main/68181/

External link

  • "MIRV: A BRIEF HISTORY OF MINUTEMAN and MULTIPLE REENTRY VEHICLES" by Daniel Buchonnet, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, February 1976.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Current World Nuclear Arsenals (553 words)
A reentry vehicle carried by a delivery system, which can place one or more reentry vehicle over each of several separate targets.
Strategic nuclear weapons: Nuclear weapons intended to be used against counter-force targets (an opponent's nuclear weapons) or counter-value targets (an opponent's non-combatant population).
While the phrase "strategic nuclear weapons" is often used to describe nuclear warheads attached to intercontinental delivery vehicles (missiles or aircraft), such usage is technically incorrect, as strategic targets can be nearby the state with the weapon in question.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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