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Page Title: Nuclear Weapons
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Characteristics of the Mk 48 and the Mk 48 ADCAP: Length: 19 feet Diameter: 21 inches Weight: 3,434  pounds  (Mk  48)  3,695 pounds   (ADCAP) Speed: More  than  28  knots Range: More  than  5  nautical  miles Depth: More  than  1,200  feet Mk 50 Torpedo The  Mk  50  torpedo  is  an  advanced,  light- weight torpedo for use against the faster, deeper- diving, and more sophisticated submarines being developed and operated by the Soviet Union. The Mk 50 can be launched from all ASW aircraft and from  torpedo  tubes  aboard  surface  combatant ships. The Mk 50 uses an active/passive acoustic homing  guidance  system.  The  Mk  50  is  being phased  in  to  replace  the  Mk  46  torpedo  as  the fleet’s  lightweight  torpedo. Characteristics  of  the  Mk  50: Length: 9  feet,  4  inches Diameter: 12.75 inches Weight: 750  pounds Speed: More  than  40  knots NUCLEAR   WEAPONS The  United  States  has  pursued  a  policy  of making  the  fewest  number  of  nuclear  weapons cover as wide a range of military applications as possible.  This  capability  is  achieved  by  planned interchangeability.  Nuclear  warheads  can  be employed  with  rockets,  torpedoes,  missiles,  and depth bombs by use of adaptational kits. Several Navy  weapons  (ASROC,  for  instance)  have  both conventional  and  nuclear  capability. The primary air-launched nuclear weapon is, of  course,  the  nuclear  bomb,  of  which  little  can be  said  regarding  specific  characteristics.  Major operational components and nuclear components contained in a basic assembly are considered part of  the  bomb.  A  complete  stockpiled  weapon, however, may consist of more than one package. The reason is additional assemblies, such as the fuze, firing set, radar, and power supply, maybe required  to  makeup  the  complete  nuclear  weapon. Because   of   the   radioactive   mushroom-type cloud resulting from a nuclear bomb, the deploy- ing aircraft crew must be protected once a bomb is  dropped.  A  safe  separation  time  is  provided by  two  methods.  One  is  the  use  of  a  timing mechanism   inserted   in   the   bomb   to   delay detonation. The second is the use of a parachute to slow the bomb (retarded free-fall bomb). Either method  allows  the  aircraft  to  reach  a  point  of safety  before  weapon  detonation. AEGIS  WEAPONS  SYSTEM Any discussion of the Navy’s weapons systems would  not  be  complete  without  a  look  at  the shipboard   integrated   AAW   combat   weapons system (Aegis). For more than 40 years, the U.S. Navy  has  developed  systems  and  tactics  to  protect itself  from  air  attacks.  Since  the  end  of  World War  II,  several  generations  of  antiship  missiles have emerged as an air threat to the fleet. The first combatant ship sunk by one of these missiles was an Israeli destroyer, hit by a Soviet-built missile in   October   1967.   The   threat   posed   by   such weapons  was  reconfirmed  as  recently  as  April 1988. At that time two Iranian surface combatants fired  on  U.S.  Navy  ships  and  aircraft  in  the Persian Gulf. The resulting exchange of antiship missiles led to the destruction of an Iranian frigate and  corvette  by  U.S.-built  Harpoon  missiles. Modern antiship missiles can be launched several hundred miles away. Air, surface, and subsurface launches can be coordinated so that the missiles arrive  on  target  almost  simultaneously.  Some cruise  missiles  have  both  nuclear  and  conventional variants. The  U.S.  Navy’s  defense  against  this  threat has continued to rely on the winning strategy of defense in depth. Guns were replaced in the late fifties  by  the  first  generation  of  guided  missiles in  our  ships  and  aircraft.  These  missiles  continued to perform well until the late sixties. By that time, we  realized  our  reaction  time,  firepower,  and operational availability in all environments did not match the threat. The Navy then started a com- prehensive engineering development program to meet an operational requirement for an advanced surface   missile   system   (ASMS).   ASMS   was renamed  the  Aegis  weapons  system  (after  the mythological  shield  of  Zeus)  in  December  1969. Based  on  the  latest  technology—particularly in  digital  computers  and  radar-signal  process- ing—the Aegis weapons system was designed as 20-13

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