Soviet/Russian Nuclear Weapons
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Basic Information

In 1949, with a lot of help from spies in the Manhattan Project, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear weapon.

In the almost 60 years then, the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian Federation, has maintained a considerable nuclear arsenal, although it was never quite to Western levels in terms of accuracy etc. Some of the time they attempted to compensate for this with sheer, brute force - for example the Tsar Bomba ("Emperor of Bombs") was somewhere between this and a prestige project. General opinion is that the device in question was beyond the capabilities of Soviet engineering and never detonated properly … but the detonation it did achieve was still enough to alarm everyone on the planet.

Most of this technology acquired NATO Reporting Names

What really alarmed everyone, however, was what happened after the fall of the Soviet Union, when a wide range of nuclear weapons were left scattered across its former territory in the hands of all sorts of people, many of whom found themselves out of work, out of money and with their social status greatly reduced. There was also the small matter of a lot of soviet engineering being "somewhat temperamental" and prone to malfunction if neglected (for example, their arsenal of liquid fuelled ICBM). In reality a pragmatic attitude by the successor governments and massive international effort averted the worst consequences but the fiction of the time is full of rogue warheads purchased or stolen from renegade (or starving) troops, and communist hardliners embarking on a final blaze of glory against the "evil capitalists". This problem was made even worse by the Soviet Union's Raygun gothic approach to nuclear power - to the extend of being somewhat over fond of radiothermal generators used to power equipment in out of the way places.


A lot of useful books and websites on the subject, such as:

Game and Story Use

  • An entire plot can revolve around a Soviet attempt to acquire a new piece of Western technology for their own ends.
    • Or, from the 1990s onwards, attempts to prevent other people accquiring pieces of Soviet technology for their own ends
    • Even the radiothermal stuff is dangerous due to its capacity to be used as the payload for a dirty bomb - of course, stealing it in the first place may be more of an issue because, whilst remote locations in the former Soviet Union may well not be very well guarded (indeed may be completely unmanned and unmonitored) they will be, as the description implies, remote. And to be remote by Russian standards, you need to be a very long way from anywhere.
  • Particular nuclear-capable platforms have acquired a degree of fame for their conventional and nuclear roles.
    • The nuclear-capable MiG-21 "Fishbed" is an agile dog-fighter and is a potent opponent in an air combat game. Also has a degree of "sports plane" about it.
    • The MiG-23 "Flogger" is a good aerial interceptor and with suitable tweaking in many regards, could be a good F-14 Tomcat opponent.
    • The MiG-25 "Foxbat" Mach 3 interceptor can form the basis of a multi-role family of strike aircraft and fighters. Its lack of agility can be removed with a good explanation.
    • The M-4 Molot (Hammer) "Bison" can be used in a 1950s scenario. Its role in the "Red Scare" of that period should not be underestimated.
    • The Su-24 "Fencer" (older settings can have NATO people call it the Su-19) tactical combat aircraft is a two-seater and not too hard to imagine in the hands of a mercenary group. In a 1980s "Cold War turns Hot" scenario, it is a must-have.
    • The Tu-22M "Backfire" medium bomber was a serious fear for NATO planners during the 1980s. Capable of carrying three long-range anti-shipping missiles, an assault of about 60 of the things is a truly terrifying opponent in a naval simulation. Capable of Mach 2 speed and an impressive (although it was over-estimated at the time) combat radius, it is a perfect vehicle for massive bombing strikes as well. RPs set in the 1980s can reference the arguments between NATO and the Warsaw Pact over its role, capability, range and name- NATO thought it was the Tu-26 (Tupolev, the design bureau, had adopted the misleading designation to think it was a development of the Tu-22 "Blinder", when it really wasn't).
      • Really, no 1980s military RP is complete without bringing this aircraft to the party.
    • The Tu-95 "Bear", a turbo-prop powered long-range bomber of legendary loudness (it can be heard from submerged submarines) just screams steampunk (or at least dieselpunk).
    • The modern Tu-160 "Blackjack" Mach 2-capable long-range bomber wreaks of size, firepower and coolness. Its agility is notable.
    • The Navaga/"Yankee" class submarine is a good one for a submarine sim, as it had to get close to the USA to launch its missiles.
    • The Project 941 Akula ballistic missile submarine, far better known by its NATO name of "Typhoon", is a very powerful vessel and can be used as the base for an entire RP.
    • The Orlan/"Kirov" class of nuclear-powered heavy cruisers is a seriously tough opponent to take on in an aerial or naval combat mission. It has over 100 surface-to-air missiles of varying types, 24 long-range anti-shipping missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes and three helicopters. It makes for a suitable flagship, boss location or escort to an even bigger vessel.
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