Russian low yield Tactical Nukes: An Algerian case

by Scander Safsaf. 02/04/2018. Algerian Freedom Alliance.

How to make the unfathomable not too obvious in the views of the many in this world? Alexander Payn’s Downsizing would have answered such dilemma, picturing to the likes of KGB how the tiny could overwhelm the macro sized. Sixty two’s Cuban missile crisis showed us the power of a good leica and emphasized the absolute necessity to hide from sight what we mean to be strategic. Living an epoch of nano technologies where miniaturized systems perform micro tasks for a range of disciplines, it has not escaped defence engineers how to take advantage of such devicing for a whole series of armaments, among which the most lethal and controversial one, namely nukes. How to not detect them? Hide Em as a first pavlovian response. Ok… we can do that, caves and buried complexes ain’t a scarce, but wait isn’t it master of war Sun Tzu who said “the whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent”. Well then let’s look at our options. And the potential for that is quite extensive, with modern conventional weaponry ranging from anti aircraft launcher to short range missiles and even portable anti-tank devices. They all share one thing, beyond their specific, targeted uses, they can as quoted earlier, confuse the enemy and provide ideal covers for those tiny nukes we want undetected. One system in particular is the ideal candidate. Labelled as defensive, non intrusive, it provides the ideal support for tactical nukes with missiles whose range can reach the hundredth kms, able to carry various payloads and whose launchers are very mobile. Sold during the oil boom era of the 2000’s, S300 and probably now S400 are presented as anti access/ access denial spheres of protection meant to bring down pretty much everything from flying saucers to cruise missiles and aircraft. We will retain though two of their specificities. First the extreme complexity of their design and use, second the wide range of payloads they can carry. This complexity coupled with protected patents is at the heart of Russian “main mise” on Algerian air defence as I detail below and put this north African nation at the centre of its global influence intent.

Since the Cuban crisis things haven’t gone so well for Russian dominion, with the likes of Libya gone, Egypt no longer in the same logic, Syria tottering, what is left in Africa and Mediterranean is good old Algerian pal, always ready for the game. To keep the dude in line we’ll sell him the “latest” in defence systems, under very specific agreements though, encompassing not only their use but also their non use. I explain. By selling I rather meant the right to use those systems and in no case, for the most complex of them, own them. Indeed, the complexity of some of them with an intricacy of space, computer, ballistic and engine technologies, acts very much as a black box for whoever “buys” them. Need some space imagery for a potential target? We own the satellites for that but this is only done from our headquarters or using our encryption codes. Want to fine tune the impulse response from the radar you bought from us? Will need triple phd makarov to have a look, but he don’t like to be disturbed so just let him do, he’ll be fine. Am exaggerating, but just a bit. Whole point is to say the very sensitive nature of some of those technologies coupled with an interconnected base, leave a lot of space for seller intervention and little for buyer’s real handling. And here comes the profiting, or what i call the conceptualization of a strategic defence agreement, which to say simply, very much allow at the end of the day a foreign body inside the hen. With such a hand, what will or will not stop this entity to advance its own cards in the « game » ? Pretty much nothing. The delicacy lies in being in a position where nothing can be refused to you or to say differently, where you can steer things at your own pace and to your own advantage. What are those cards then? Well, one self-evident is what i mentioned earlier, nukes. But in no case the obvious way, but rather the Sun Tzu way, undetected.

Russia in this scenario, seeks to enforce two goals by owning Algeria’s defence system. To outflank NATO from the south, with US bases in Spain and Italy at shooting range. But also to control Gibraltar strait, cutting at the same time supply routes coming from the Atlantic. With a Suez canal easily taken out by few direct nuclear hits, in case of a direct confrontation, what’s left for an access to interior black sea is the strait. Too wide though to be cut, but within range of Algerian ally. Access denial anti aircraft systems positioned in westernmost part of the country could easily cover Gibraltar and even beyond.

It is for sure naive to think Algerian would intentionally position such tactical nukes within their borders, but equally naive to think Russian wouldn’t take the option. The nature of the regime in Algeria with three poles, namely, army, presidency and secret services, leaves a lot of room for a sort of gentleman’s agreement with one of the pole, at the expense of the two others. Army need not be aware of such agreement, part of an interest embezzlement or what i call a procedural hijacking of bilateral ties by intelligence agencies, who of course know better than the others. After all, what’s so complicated in hiding a half truck loaded with a dozen missiles in a warehouse somewhere.


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