The Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus
What are tactical nuclear weapons?
- Nuclear weapons can be categorised into two types — strategic and tactical.
- Strategic weapons refer to weapons that have bigger objectives, such as destroying cities or larger targets with larger war-waging objectives in mind.
- Strategic nuclear weapons would likely be used to bring the enemy to its knees entirely with a massive strike like the United States did in World War II when its nuclear weapons forced Japanese surrender.
- Tactical weapons are limited in their scope and the intention behind their usage is limited to arriving at a particular battlefied outcome.
- An example of a tactical nuclear weapon would be its use to stop adversary’s progress in a particular theatre.
- Tactical nuclear weapons are called “non-strategic nuclear weapons”.
Tactical (non-strategic) nuclear weapons (TNWs) typically refer to short-range weapons, including:
- land-based missiles with a range of less than 500 km
- air- and sea-launched weapons with a range of less than 600 km
- Tactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield.
They have a relatively short range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads.
- Unlike strategic weapons, which have been subject to arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington, tactical weapons never have been limited by any such pacts.
- While strategic nuclear weapons are fitted to land- or submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly ready for launch, tactical nuclear weapons are stored at a few tightly guarded storage facilities and it takes time to deliver them to combat units.
How can they be used?
- Tactical nuclear warheads can be placed on various types of missiles which are normally used to deliver conventional explosives, such as cruise missiles and artillery shells.
- They can also be fired from aircraft and ships as anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB