Without the need for human intervention, this system can unleash hundreds of nuclear missiles at adversaries.
Russian forces have 700 nuclear weapons “carriers,” including strategic bombers, nuclear submarines, and missile silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Few people are aware, however, that one of them may operate autonomously and attack dangerous enemy objectives even if the country’s whole territory is destroyed by a nuclear attack.
The “Dead Hand” was given to this system. So, how does the Russian military’s one-of-a-kind system work?
What exactly is “Dead Hand”?
The US and European countries have dubbed the Russian military’s ‘Perimeter’ system the “Death Hand.” This is a computerised control system that is employed in the event of a nuclear strike.
Simply told, if Russia’s land is destroyed as a result of a nuclear attack, the Perimeter system will automatically launch a nuclear missile at the enemy’s territory.
The origins of the ‘Perimeter’ system
During the Cold War, the Soviet military command realised that a single nuclear missile could destroy the command base, which housed nuclear weapons.
They also expect to see radio-electronic warfare facilities that can intercept strategic nuclear forces’ conventional control channels.
As a result, the military demanded a contingency plan to ensure that all intercontinental ballistic missile silos launch a “retaliatory” nuclear missile strike.
To accomplish the objective, Soviet engineers devised an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would serve as a hub, activating all of the bunkers storing missiles pointed at the enemy after launch.
The new missile will be kept in a freshly constructed bunker (capable of withstanding a direct nuclear strike) with pre-programmed flight coordinates and radio signals that will be sent to the missile during the flight process.
What was the process of developing the “Dead Hand” system?
The new weapon will be based on the UR-100N (a NATO-designated intercontinental ballistic missile known as the SS-19 ‘Stiletto’). Engineers designed a novel weapon with a powerful radio transmitter gadget, in particular.
The prototype was tested for the military before the end of the decade, after construction began in the mid-1970s. The missile’s first testing revealed that it could fly a distance of 4,500 kilometres at an altitude of 4,000 metres and deliver radio messages to other objects while in flight.
The military command has been conducting “combat tests” for the past five years to determine whether the new weapon is capable of opening a real silo and delivering the country’s most powerful nuclear missile to a specific location.
The command missile was launched from Byelorussian in November 1984, and it was able to send the launch command to a silo launcher near Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The ICBM R-36M (NATO codename SS-18 ‘Satan’) that launched from the silo hit its target in a precise region at the Kura test range in Kamchatka.
The new weapons were demonstrated to be capable of travelling across the whole Soviet Union while simultaneously giving combat orders to other intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The army accepted the new system in 1985, and it is still in use today to secure Russian territory.
Improvements to the current “Dead Hand” system
The “Dead Hand” system contains not just missiles, but also radars and satellites that collect data from orbit, as well as Russia’s territory. It’s a sophisticated computer system that monitors a variety of characteristics, including seismic activity, radiation levels, and data from missile warning systems positioned around the region.
“During its years of operation, the system has been changed multiple times. First, Russia has incorporated new radio-intelligence capabilities, such as the Voronezh-class radar, which can detect missile launches from a distance of up to 7,000 kilometres. Engineers later adjusted the weapon to fight modern electronic warfare vehicles capable of silencing radio signals,” stated Ivan Konovalov, the Foundation for the Promotion of 21st Century Technology’s Director of Development.
The “Dead Hand,” according to Konovalov, is on the list to receive hypersonic missile blocks, which may travel at speeds of 5-7 km/s. The new missiles will join the new Sarmat-class ICBMs in military duty.