Nuclear Blackout of Tactical Communications; Nuclear Notes Number 4

Fort Bliss, TX: U.S. Army Nuclear Agency, 1976. Presumed First Edition, First printing. Wraps. Format is approximately 8 inches by 10.5 inches. 28 pages. Wraps. Illustrations. Charts. Tables. Creased. Part of a series of information papers on topics associated with nuclear weapons, principally designed for use by Tradoc School instructors and major command staff officers. The series of papers, "Nuclear Notes," prepared by the US Army Nuclear Agency was intended to clarify and explain various aspects of nuclear weapons phenomenology and usage. These papers are prepared in as non-technical fashion as the subject matter permits. They are oriented toward an audience assumed to be responsible for teaching or in some way evaluating the actions and techniques of employing nuclear weapons in a conflict situation. Dr. John A. "Jack" Berberet was a nuclear physicist. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Washington in 1951. During World War II he worked as a scientist and helped development the proximity fuse for artillery shells. He began his post-war career at the Hanford Nuclear Site and then joined GE Tempo in Santa Barbara, where he was an early expert on Chinese nuclear development. He accurately predicted when China would develop its first nuclear weapon. He held a number of positions during his scientific career, including working for the Army at Fort Belvoir, and Fort Bliss. Since Dr. Berberet's authorship was acknowledged on page 3, this is one of the rarest of his scientific/technical publications. Nuclear blackout, also known as fireball blackout or radar blackout, is an effect caused by explosions of nuclear weapons that disturbs radio communications and causes radar systems to be blacked out or heavily refracted so they can no longer be used for accurate tracking and guidance. Within the atmosphere, the effect is caused by the large volume of ionized air created by the energy of the explosion, while above the atmosphere it is due to the action of high-energy beta particles released from the decaying bomb debris. At high altitudes, the effect can spread over large areas, hundreds of kilometers. The effect slowly fades as the fireball dissipates. The effect was known from the earliest days of nuclear testing when radar systems were used to track the nuclear mushroom clouds at very long distances. Its extended effects when exploded outside the atmosphere were first noticed in 1958 as part of the Hardtack and Argus nuclear tests, which caused widespread radio interference extending over thousands of kilometers. The effect was so disconcerting that both the Soviets and US broke the informal testing moratorium that had been in place since late 1958 to run series of tests to gather further information on the various high-altitude effects like blackout and electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Blackout is a particular concern for anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. By exploding a warhead in the upper atmosphere just beyond the range of defensive missiles, an attacker can blanket a wide area of the sky beyond which additional approaching warheads cannot be seen. When those warheads emerge from the blackout area there may not be enough time for the defensive system to develop tracking information and attack them. This was a serious concern for the LIM-49 Nike Zeus program of the late 1950s, and one of the reasons it was ultimately canceled. A key discovery revealed in testing was that the effect cleared more quickly for higher frequencies. Later missile defense designs used radars operating at higher frequencies in the UHF and microwave region to mitigate the effect. Condition: Good.

Keywords: Nuclear Weapons, Civil Defense, Tactical Blackout, Nuclear Blackout, Nuclear Burst, Weapon Effects, Nuclear Effects, EMP, Electromagnetic Pulse, Burst Perturbed Regions, Fireball Characteristics, Low Yield, Near Surface, Dust Clout, High Altitude, Re

[Book #9635]

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