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Old 12-09-2009, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Austin
1,478 posts, read 639,045 times
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It sounds like something from a James Bond movie: a massive satellite, the largest ever launched, equipped with a powerful laser to take out the American anti-missile shield in advance of a Soviet first strike. It was real, thoughor at least the plan was. In fact, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev walked out of the October 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, because President Ronald Reagan wouldn't abandon his Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, the Soviets were closer to fielding a space-based weapon than the United States was. Less than a year later, as the world continued to criticize Reagan for his "Star Wars" concept, the Soviet Union launched a test satellite for its own space-based laser system, which failed to reach orbit. Had it succeeded, the cold war might have taken a different turn.
Source: Soviet Star Wars | Space Exploration | Air & Space Magazine
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I don't think it would have mattered. The Soviet Union, by then, was already crumbling under the weight of its contradictions. Mind you, this was a country that, economically, could barely support 50,000 combat troops in Afghanistan--let alone put up a massive space-based missile system. Strategically, the Soviets faced an array of challenges that a few lasers in space would have done nothing to prevent.

I think the mistake people make when they look at the Soviet Military in the late 70s to the USSR's final downfall is that they keep ascribing it with the operational efficiency of the Wehrmacht in World War II. However, the Soviet military by that time was a far cry from the army that overran Eastern Europe in 1944-45. By that time was hobbled by corruption, politics, poor training, substandard equipment, an economy that was more like something out of the Third World, and a sizable portion of their personnel who couldn't even understand the orders of their Russian language officers. The Soviet bloc was already in ferment, the leadership was doddering (Aside from Gorbachev), and technologically unable to compete in the new computer age. There was simply no hope for the Soviet Union.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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Only if the systems had worked. The US tried repeatedly to get theirs to work and failed including now more than 25 years later. And if the SDI system could have worked, and I don't believe it could, it could have been knocked out by an emp blast.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:08 PM
 
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It would have been the space borne equivalent of the Maginot Line. I.E., it would have sucked up huge chunks of the GDP, only to be easily circumvented by other methods.

Personally, if I were the Soviets and really, truly wanted to execute a first strike, I would have smuggled a lot of nukes into the country in the form of innocuous parts, brought in the warheads in the diplomatic packets, put them together, and detonated them in Washington during the State of the Union speech. .
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:57 PM
 
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If they had done so, who would they have brought their wheat from?
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Old 12-10-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
If they had done so, who would they have brought their wheat from?
We're talking Communists. Probably the least practical political philosophy ever devised. The more thoroughly it is applied, the more misery it creates.
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Old 12-10-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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It would have been hard to take out an anti-america shield that never existed. Through out the cold war both sides built combat systems for threats that never ended up being built. The russians for example spent a lot of money developing a plane to stop a high level follow up to the B-52 that the US eventually canceled
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:20 AM
 
Location: Maryland about 20 miles NW of DC
4,768 posts, read 2,237,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
It would have been hard to take out an anti-america shield that never existed. Through out the cold war both sides built combat systems for threats that never ended up being built. The russians for example spent a lot of money developing a plane to stop a high level follow up to the B-52 that the US eventually canceled

The Soviet answer to the XB-70 (High altitude Mach 3 bomber) was the high altitude Mach 3 interceptor (Foxbat (MiG 25)). Our reponse was the F-15 and the low alitutude stealthy B-1A and eventually the B-2. We didn't know until we actually got a Foxbat to examine in 1975 that the plane could only operate at full power for at best 2 hours before either its fuel ran out or the jet engines failed mechanically. In otherwords, it was a human guided missile meant for a one way flight in a war to end all wars!
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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Thanks for the info, could not remember which plane was involved. There was an interesting dispute about the plane among experts. It had a wide range of older electronic technology which at the time was asserted to show just how far behind the West the Russians were. Later, in the eighties, some suggested that the reason the technology was so old was because the Soviets were deeply concerned about EMP and modern circuts are millions of times more vulnerable to EMP than older technology like vacuam tubes.
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