What is a tactical nuclear weapon?

tactical nuclear weapon


In the past few decades, the world has seen an increase in the number of nuclear weapons, both tactical and strategic. A common question among people who are unfamiliar with this trend is: what exactly is a tactical nuclear weapon? Before we answer that question, let’s first review some more general definitions.

Tactical nuclear weapon

While a tactical nuclear weapon is not a thermonuclear weapon, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. A thermonuclear bomb is more than twice as powerful as an atomic bomb. In fact, it’s approximately 10 times more powerful than an atomic bomb!

A tactical nuke also isn’t a strategic nuke or a bomb or missile or submarine or bomber. A strategic nuclear weapon could destroy any city in North America, for example.

More complete definition

A tactical nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon that is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations. They are also called battlefield nukes, battlefield bombs, or battlefield missiles.

Tactical nukes are smaller than strategic nukes and have less destructive power than conventional weapons of mass destruction like chemical weapons or biological weapons. Tactical nukes can be used against enemy troops and facilities, such as airfields and ammunition dumps; they can also be used to destroy bridges and block roads to disrupt supply lines.

Tactical nukes are not intended for use against civilian targets because they would cause too much collateral damage (i.e., unintended death or destruction) if they were dropped on cities—the goal of using them would be lost if there was no one left alive who could fight back!

What is a tactical nuclear weapon?

A tactical nuclear weapon is any type of nuclear weapon that is designed to be used in a military conflict. Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller than strategic nuclear weapons, which are designed to destroy cities or countries.

Tactical nuclear weapons have the potential to cause extremely large numbers of casualties. They can kill thousands or even millions of people if they are used near densely populated areas like cities that don’t have much warning before the bomb goes off.

Examples of tactical nuclear weapons

Examples of tactical nuclear weapons include the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system and the PKZF2 (tactical missile). The Tunguska air defense missile system is another example.

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What are the differences between tactical nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons?

Tactical nuclear weapons are generally smaller and have a lower explosive yield than strategic nuclear weapons. Tactical nukes are intended for use in a local area, whereas strategic nukes are designed to be used in larger areas.

The US military has been developing tactical nukes since the 1950s, when it tested its first one at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Since then, the US has been working on ways to miniaturize its nuke arsenal even further—and it’s not alone: Russia has also developed smaller tactical nukes of its own.

The U.S. and Russia’s tactical nukes

The U.S. and Russia maintain a nuclear arsenal of about 1,000 tactical weapons each—a number that is far smaller than the two countries’ respective strategic weapons (intercontinental missiles).

The U.S. has deployed 200 B-61 nuclear bombs in Europe, which can be carried by fighter jets or delivered by cruise missiles launched from submarines or ships, according to an analysis by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

History of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

The first tactical nuclear weapon was used in 1953 during the Korean War. The US dropped a 20 kiloton atomic bomb on the North Korean airfield at Sui-ho. The attack was carried out by a B-29 Superfortress bomber flown by Col. Thompson and Lt Col Larkin.

In 1959, NATO introduced the concept of ‘flexible response’ to its strategic doctrine which allowed it to use conventional weapons against non-nuclear states if they did not comply with international law or threaten NATO members’ security interests.[2]

Tactical nuclear weapons were subsequently used during several conflicts including Vietnam, where they were deployed again by both sides as well as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.[3][4]

Understanding the differences between types of nuclear weapons can help us understand what may be a potential threat.

Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller and have a shorter range than strategic nuclear weapons. They are designed to be used on the battlefield, rather than being dropped from bombers or missiles at long distances.

There is some debate about the differences between tactical and strategic weapons. Many sources agree that a tactical weapon has a yield of under 5 kilotons (KT), while a strategic one has over 50 KT. Because these categories are not defined by any treaty or international agreement, they can vary across different nations’ definitions of “tactical” and “strategic.” Some countries consider even low-yield weapons like artillery shells as tactical because they can be used in close combat situations, while others consider only missiles capable of reaching targets at least 500 kilometers away to be strategic. In general, though, most experts agree that anything with less than 5 KT is considered tactical—and this includes nuclear landmines!


It’s important to understand the differences between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. They are not interchangeable. Tactical nuclear weapons can be used on the battlefield, but they have limited range and cannot destroy an entire city or country. Strategic nuclear weapons are used for long-range attacks that would destroy an entire country by targeting population centers with high explosive yields. The U.S. has about 500 tactical nuclear warheads in its arsenal, while Russia has 2,000 such weapons as well as 1,300 strategic ones—but both countries have been reducing their stockpiles over time in order to comply with agreements made during arms reduction talks held over decades of diplomacy between world leaders from many different nations.”

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