Did I Really Just Read This?

Wow, lets just nuke em all

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In a recent article for Army Technology Rear Admiral Chris Parry made a number of statements that were most surprising.

Some interesting points were raised but this stood out

How do we counter mass in future? We have to keep our nuclear weapons. There’s a limit to how many munitions we can get on the ground to deal with opponents who are demographically gifted. You can’t kill people quickly enough in the modern world; you have to use nuclear weapons.

Demographically gifted

A great euphemism

If the demographically gifted aren’t Chinese is he actually advocating using nuclear weapons against a non nuclear populous state, or was he talking about nuking the Chinese as they advance across the English Channel in waves?


Thoughts on this anyone?



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January 15, 2014 11:44 am

It’s rumoured that the British pm had decided to use a battlefield/tactical nuclear weapon again Iraq had Saddam launched a chemical attack on UK forces liberating Kuwait. Thought about using was probably more the case. Did we/do we have any ‘tactical nukes’?

Can the a Trident missile be adjusted to low yield? I ask because I have no idea.

Bucket of sun anyone?

January 15, 2014 11:59 am


It is not really a rumour. It was made very clear to Saddam that any large scale use of chemical or biological weapons would be responded to with tactical nuclear weapons. At the time the Tornado fleet was better equipped and trained to use it’s WE.177 tactical nuclear weapons than it was it’s conventional weapons. However, the Labour government retired tactical nuclear weapons in 1997 to appease the formerly pro-Soviet wing of the party.

Chris Parry’s statement is odd, putting China and India aside it is kid of difficult to see where he is coming from, unless you think Al Qaeda is on the brink of establishing a unified Middle Eastern Caliphate and unleashing the Islamist hordes across Europe- which seems unlikely. Anyway, if that were to happen we would probably have to nuke Tower Hamlets, Leicester and Rochester first.

January 15, 2014 12:21 pm


Agreed, it is a very silly comment. In late 80s the west actually got very good at killing large numbers of vehicles very quickly so its only dismounted hordes that might require nukes.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
January 15, 2014 12:31 pm

Any ideas what he meant by this bit?

“Excalibur with all its sub-munitions gives us the opportunity of stand-off range and we are able to engage.”

Peter Elliott
January 15, 2014 12:50 pm

A good overcoat but no knickers?

*favourite TD theme*

Mike R
Mike R
January 15, 2014 12:57 pm

“Any ideas what he meant by this bit?

“Excalibur with all its sub-munitions gives us the opportunity of stand-off range and we are able to engage.”

Maybe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M982_Excalibur ?

January 15, 2014 1:11 pm

‘In late 80s the west actually got very good at killing large numbers of vehicles very quickly’

Is it time to return to cluster munitions after retiring them from service.

And is he advocating returning to tactical nukes? because trident is a bit overkill for destroying formations.

January 15, 2014 1:17 pm

Dumb cluster bombs are really a thing of the past for the West. Typhoons with 18 Brimstones and artillery and air dropped sensor fuzed sub-munitions is where it’s at.

January 15, 2014 1:38 pm

Dumb cluster bombs can deny an area to an enemy allowing you to restrict his movement and then destroy him with brimstone.It would be hard for us to stop the formations he is referring to with brimstone and javelin coupled with MLRS with the rounds we use today.

The reason they were withdrawn from service is the legacy left by them after use, but if we use programmable self destructing bomblets/mines it would be possible to use them again.

Rocket Banana
January 15, 2014 1:42 pm

I think he’s trying to communicate the idea of a small army being totally overwhelmed by numbers. It doesn’t matter how good your singular human killing device is, you simply can’t kill 100,000 men fast enough with guns, Brimstone, Hellfire, shells, TLAM, etc.

You need cluster munitions, plasma beams and nukes.

If you’ve ever played some of those old space-invader games (R-Type springs to mind) there comes a point where the only way you can deal with the onslaught is with a nuke.

Nowadays “nuke” is replaced with “EMP” – see most of the Matrix films.

Darned Consultant
Darned Consultant
January 15, 2014 2:23 pm

Maybe he is worried about the inevitable zombie apocalypse… A demographically gifted unkillable foe if ever there was one. Nuke em, from orbit preferably I say!

(removing tongue from cheek now)

January 15, 2014 2:38 pm

Maybe he meant these

Increment II “Smart” projectile for moving and time-sensitive targets.[3] May carry either 65 DPICM or two SADARM submunitions.[4]

Increment III “Discriminating” projectile “to search, detect, and selectively engage individual vehicles by distinguishing specific target characteristics”

Married with the longer range of the shell it would be possible to begin chipping away at the enemy sooner, although you are still limited by the sustained RPM of the tube and the need to relocate for counter battery fire.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 15, 2014 9:25 pm

Ages ago, I read that if you take the fusion boost out of a UK 100KT warhead, you are left with a clean (by nuke standards) 10KT tactical warhead.
Though I think the UK needs at least 2 types of nuclear warhead. We should have a UK version of the W91, that was destined for the SRAM-T. 310 pound weight, 10 or 100 KT variable yield. So you can have tactical or strategic depending on circumstance.
Then we need something bigger for our Trident boats. A “don’t mess with us warhead”. So either the 200 KT W89 or the 475 KT W88.
If you want to muddy between nuclear & conventional, then go for Hafnium.
Or back to big conventional bombs, a 22,000lb Grandslam with Paveway IV guidance & a wing kit perhaps?

January 15, 2014 10:43 pm

This is the famous yes minister clip on nuclear weapons.


Which gives the reason for having nuclear weapons, the fact that they change the entire strategic playing field as a force in being by forcing an enemy into “salami tactics” of never doing anything that would make somebody push the nuclear button.

A single warhead could vaporise an entire conscript army, which in turn makes deploying such an army pointless, especially when somebody advocates nuking such a force should our army be dramatically outnumbered.

A Grand Slam bomb was an earthquake bomb which was designed to shake fortified targets to bits when the bomb penetrated deep underground from picking up a huge amount of speed drop from a high height. Sticking on a wing kit and paveway guidance to slow the decent and explode on or inside a target makes it pointless as the shockwave then doesn’t have the same effect. The Americans typically missed everything in the idea apart from “very big bomb”.

January 16, 2014 4:17 am

Actually nuclear targeting against ground forces is easier said than done. The main reason is the time between targeting and weapon delivery. Obviously a lot depends on the weapon release arrangements (eg does each use need political approval, does the target comply with the conditions of selective release, etc) and the time between issuing the fire order (or air request) and delivery.

If the target array is marching hordes with minimum body armour then conventional artillery with prox fuzes is probably more than adequate, with target identification from UAS. Providing the USAF isn’t being its usual ‘we own the airspace’ self, then opening rounds can be on the way in less than 60 seconds of a digital call for fire message being sent.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 16, 2014 9:16 am

Peter re Grand Slam. Given the limitations of WW2 accuracy, the bomb had to do damage from a near miss. So the spin & speed were needed to dig itself in. Modern guidance does away with that. Now you can have a direct hit from stand off range. If you want an enemy to turn & flee, then letting them see their cohorts being vaporised by a Grand Slam should do it.

January 16, 2014 8:43 pm

John; An earthquake is designed to do damage from digging into the ground with a near miss and ripping a building apart from the earthquake effect transmitted through the ground. You don’t want to get a direct hit because it does less damage.

I would suggest that even if we accepted that a Tornado could actually carry a single Grand Slam (something which I seriously doubt could be managed) then one has to suspect that misusing an earthquake bomb by dropping it on a tank would not have much greater an effect on an enemy formation than 18 Brimstones, which is the load that the Tornado can carry along with it’s AA weapons. It’s also in service and doesn’t need any development.

Charles Talbot
Charles Talbot
March 29, 2014 10:29 pm

I was at this conference and Chris Parry did not actually say a lot of what is reported in this article. The chains of cause and effect seem to have been somewhat confused in the re-telling. What he did say was that it would be considered politically and ethically – not practically – difficult to kill large number of people on any battlefield in the modern world. It was In a separate discussion that he stressed the need to retain a nuclear deterrent posture in relation to other emerging technologies of mass effect. The two issues were not linked. He also did not say anything about KORNETs taking out T-72s in Syria; it was KORNETs taking out Israeli tanks in Lebanon and so on …