What are Tactical Nuclear Weapons?

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What are Tactical Nuclear Weapons? Blog Image


Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.

About Tactical Nuclear Weapons:

  • Nuclear weapons, just like other weapons, can be categorised into two types — strategic and tactical.
  • Strategic Nuclear Weapons: They refer to nuclear weapons that have bigger objectives, such as destroying cities or larger targets, with larger war-waging objectives in mind.
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs):
    • They are nuclear weapons used for specific tactical gains on the battlefield.
    • They are intended to devastate enemy targets in a specific area without causing widespread destruction and radioactive fallout.
    • These are designed for use in battle as part of an attack with conventional weapon forces. 
    • These warheads can be delivered via a variety of missiles, torpedoes and gravity bombs from naval, air or ground forces. They could even be simply driven into an area and detonated.
    • The explosive yield of tactical nuclear weapons can range from under one kiloton to about 100 kilotons, whereas strategic nuclear weapons can have a yield of up to one thousand kilotons.
    • Delivery systems for tactical nuclear weapons also tend to have shorter ranges, typically under 310 miles (500 kilometres), compared with strategic nuclear weapons, which are typically designed to cross continents.
    • They are the least-regulated category of nuclear weapons covered in arms control agreements. 
  • Countries possessing TNWs:
    • Nine countries have tactical nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
    • They are Russia, the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea.
    • Russia has a stockpile of an estimated 2,000 tactical nuclear missiles. 
    • The U.S. has an estimated 200 tactical nuclear bombs, half of which are at bases in Europe.


Q1) What is a Nuclear Weapon?

A nuclear weapon is a device that uses a nuclear reaction to create an explosion. This explosion is much more powerful than that of conventional explosives (like TNT). When a nuclear weapon explodes, it gives off four types of energy: a blast wave, intense light, heat, and radiation. Nuclear weapons can be in the form of bombs or missiles.

Source: Russia Will Deploy Tactical Nuclear Weapons In Belarus, Says Putin