Are You Feeling Lucky? – Challenging the Myth that Russian Nukes Won’t Work or Will all be Shot Down

By Tim Guay

A RS-24 Yars Mobile ICBM. (Image from the Russian MOD)

Are You Feeling Lucky?

I keep reading articles from people who state that most, if not all of Russia’s nukes will not work due
to poor maintenance related to rampant corruption in Russia, or will be shot down by US and NATO
Anti-Ballistic Missiles. Well, my question to them is “Are you feeling lucky?” You better! As you are
betting your life on this dangerous assumption that is based on some pretty tenuous “evidence”.

The “evidence” is based on the equipment failures exhibited in the Ukraine, maintenance issues, and
outdated supplies, as well as reports of rampant corruption within Russia’s defense industry and the
military itself. Granted there have been equipment failures, maintenance issues, and definitely
corruption, but NATO militaries are not immune.

For example, according to the Rand Corporation, US Abrams tank units operational readiness rates
range from seventy-four to eighty-four percent, depending on the age of the tanks in the unit. Four of
the twenty-two US tank battalions had an operational readiness of less than 70 percent. Below
seventy percent is considered not suited for committing into combat.

The F-35, the most modern US and NATO jet fighter, has an readiness rate of fifty-four percent on
average, mainly due to the lack of spare parts and ongoing quality issues.

So maybe if we are all lucky, nobody’s nukes will work? Unfortunately, they will work,
including Russia’s nukes.

First, they have been engaged in an extensive nuclear force’s modernization program, with a
significant proportion of their arsenal being modern designs, such as the Yars mobile ICBM and the
Sarmat silo-based ICBM, as well as the Borei class nuclear missile submarine. Currently modernized
systems represent ninety-one percent of Russia’s immediately available nuclear inventory.

In contrast, the US Ohio class missile sub is aging, with the newest one being twenty-six years old with
the first replacement Columbia class not entering service until 2031, and the Minuteman III has been
service since 1970 and is not slated for replacement until 2030.

The Russian first line nuclear weapons and subs are newer than the US.

Do the Russian Subs and Nukes Work?

Russia, like the US, runs an annual nuclear forces readiness exercise to validate that they work as well
as identify any issues that need to be addressed. They will test fire missiles as well as exercise their
entire nuclear command and control system.

Sure, they’ve had issues that needed to be addressed, but so has the US and no one ever questions
the reliability of the US nukes, even despite their older inventory.

No worries though as our anti-missile defenses will shoot them down. After all, didn’t Patriot
batteries shoot down, Russian hypersonic missiles in the Ukraine?

Well, those reports have not been independently verified and hard to believe if one understands the
supersonic intercept capabilities of the Patriot system versus the physics of a hypersonic missile.
Also most of the West’s anti-missile systems are designed to intercept short and intermediate-ranged
missiles, or missiles in their launch phase, the only missiles designed to intercept ICBM’s and SLBM’s is
the GMD, of which the US has 44. The Pentagon Test Office said that the system only has
“limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland from a small number of simple long-range missiles,
with simple counter measures, launched from North Korea or Iran.” And even then, the tests show
only a 52 percent hit probability.

Current Russian ICBM’s, such as the Yars and Sarmat have very sophisticated counter measures and
decoy warheads…. And there could be hundreds coming at us.

Even if by some miracle, only 10% of their missiles hit, that could kill tens of millions; even you or I, if
the wrong one gets through. Despite the compelling evidence that the Russian nuclear weapons work and that the US and NATO missile defenses will only stop a small percentage of incoming missiles, people still insist in discounting any evidence that contradicts those ‘Russia’s Nukes Won’t Work’ articles and posts they cling too so they don’t have to think about the risks and consequences of all-out nuclear war.

Does the US Government Believe Russia’s Nukes Won’t Work?

To these people I will make this final argument in support of Russian nukes working and the
inadequacy of US/NATO missile defenses based on the principle that actions speak louder than words
by posing this question; Does US/NATO actions reflect the belief that Russia’s nukes don’t work and
any that do, will be easily destroyed. If US and NATO had credible intelligence confirming that belief,
wouldn’t they act accordingly? Wouldn’t they have, for example?

  • Implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine like many have called for?
  • Threatened the use of nuclear weapons if Russia did not withdraw from Ukraine?
  • Have the US Secretary of Defense or even the President of the US announced that the Russian’s have no credible nuclear deterrence in order to reassure the population and undermine Russia’s international credibility?
  • Not bothered spending money on modernizing its entire nuclear force or keep a full triad in service, rather than, say, just maintaining a nuclear missile-armed submarine force like the UK and France?
  • Why would the US need to keep a substantial segment of its nuclear triad on 24/7 alert, including the ability to launch on warning, in order, to quote from the US DOD website, “ The triad, along with assigned forces, provide 24/7 deterrence to prevent catastrophic actions from our adversaries.”?

The answers to the above questions indicate the US and NATO know that a significant number of
Russian nuclear warheads would get off the ground and penetrate our missile defenses, enough to
give Russia a credible nuclear deterrence.

So why do articles in mainstream journals keep trying to tell us that their nukes won’t work?

The US has No Shelters for the General Population and no Civil Defense Program

To reassure us, so we, the citizens of the various nuclear powers, won’t protest nuclear weapons or
the use of nuclear brinkmanship to intimidate their enemies, a tactic that has been used by the US
and most recently by Russia, with the ensuing risk that its’ use could go horribly wrong by triggering a
pre-emptive strike by the side being threatened.

Also, they want to prevent protests related to the fact we in the US, Canada, and UK have no shelters
for the population or a viable civil defense response. FEMA’s response to past disasters does not illicit
confidence in their ability to respond to even a single nuclear detonation.

To circle back to my original question… “Are you feeling lucky?” Given what you now know, do you
want to bet your life and the lives of your family that the Russian nukes won’t work, or will all be shot

I know I don’t!

Links of Interest:

US Department of Defense Nuclear Triad

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nuclear Risk

Federation of American Scientist Russian ICBM Upgrade

The Cassandra Project Nuclear War YouTube Channel by Tim Guay