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Thread: Price of a nuke

  1. #31
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    Sadly the 45 could not be used like that - it was a wire guided sub-launched weapon. Plus it weighed six times as much as a standard ASROC weapon, the 46 (without the nuclear charge). The depth charges (Mark 101 and later a variant of the B57) were air dropped. There was a nuclear warhead for the ASROC, it was the W44 (the W34 was the one on the type 45).

    The 45 really was there to deal with targets that nothing else could get - the very deep diving Soviet subs that scared the west so badly. Then they built their ADCAP models and the need for such a weapon went away. I think the Soviet version's stated use was to remove an aircraft carrier group. In either case they were basically only for use in a scenario that meant a) the sub would be killed for sure trying to stop the threat on its own and b) the consequences of the threat getting through were considered too high to pass up the opportunity to destroy it.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    Word on the street is that there is 1 MT bomb available "free for the taking" off the coast of Georgia if you can find it.

    The US government says that if you find it, they want it back. Spoil sports.
    How much is US governement willing to pay me to find it?

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    There is also (thank goodness) not a free market of suppliers and customers for such items, so it is hard to set a fair market price. And, they are not made in such large numbers, that you get the discounts of scale common in most other goods. Lastly, as Shaula pointed out, I suspect a lot of the cost is in developing the technologies.
    True, but it is precisely the lack of free market which through monopsony could assure pricing at real cost.

    A sole buyer military is not going to want to pay market/monopoly prices to the suppliers whose alternative is going out of the market. On the other hand, they do not want to bankrupt their suppliers either - so independent suppliers should be getting the actual cost plus some profit, and military´s own departments should be getting the real costs and no profit whatsoever.

    Unless the military contractors are being given extra profits as political cronies.

    Regarding the development costs, for an independent contractor these may be hidden into net price as business secrets - but they may not, especially for own department. If the development and tooling costs are fully paid for to produce the first batch of arms, then the subsequent batches may be produced at pure marginal cost.

    How much details of the costs of nuclear warheads are publicly available to Congress and private voters to see whether the masses of nuclear warheads cost what is budgeted for them or whether the military budget contains waste or worse?

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    How much is US government willing to pay me to find it?
    Nothing. I stumbled across a TV program a while back (not sure which channel, maybe NatGeo, or H2) where they interviewed a retired guy who spends his time looking for the bomb. He says that he is under strict instructions not to disturb it (duh!) if he finds it, and to alert the authorities so they can fetch it.

    He says his motivation is to prevent the bomb from falling into the wrong hands, and has no problem with leaving the recovery to professionals. The bomb is assumed to be buried deep in silt, so I'm not sure how he can determine if he has actually found the bomb to any level of certainty without disturbing it.

    There is also some debate whether the bomb has a plutonium pit installed. So, if you find it, you may have to order some parts to get it operational.
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    Nothing. I stumbled across a TV program a while back (not sure which channel, maybe NatGeo, or H2) where they interviewed a retired guy who spends his time looking for the bomb. He says that he is under strict instructions not to disturb it (duh!) if he finds it, and to alert the authorities so they can fetch it.
    Cheap *******s.

    I guess they must not want it back THAT badly.l

  6. #36
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    I thought I saw those for sale in the Edmund Scientific catalogue just a few years back.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    Cheap *******s.

    I guess they must not want it back THAT badly.l
    And I bet they wouldn't even consider any claim to salvage rights if you DID dredge it up.

    Of course they'ed pull that whole patriotism thing if you said for them to just be the highest bidder on Craig's List...

  8. #38
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    There is also personel risk to those making the transaction. The person who bring the money is likely to be killed by the person delivering the bomb, or vice versa or both dead. Even a successful trade may be bomb that works poorly or not at all. Neil

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
    How much details of the costs of nuclear warheads are publicly available to Congress and private voters to see whether the masses of nuclear warheads cost what is budgeted for them or whether the military budget contains waste or worse?
    Quite a lot, if not nearly all. Read on:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Not "any" answer ($9.95?), one that is actually close to what a nuke would cost, if they could legally be purchased in, say, a gun store.
    Parts plus labor, R&D, storage, and security? I would imagine it would range somewhere between $1 Million and $1 Billion.

    A more practical approach might be to:

    - ascertain how many were in the US inventory at our inventory's peak (33,000)

    - the date of that peak (1966)

    - find the beginning date and number of the rapid increase in number (4,000 in 1956)

    - Average the result (18,500 warheads in 1961)

    - find out what the DoD budget was in 1961 ($344 Billion)

    - take a reasonable percentage for what portion might have been used in the design, development, manufacture, storage, and security of nuclear weapons (5%, or about $15 Billion)

    - divide the result by the number in inventory (about $800,000 per warhead)

    - then use an inflation calculator to drag that value into today's dollars ($6 Million per warhead)

    For the inflation calculator, I get two different values:
    - $5,915,616
    - $6,137,579

    So, let's call it $6 Million. However, that's just the price (very roughly) the U.S. might charge were it to ever sell one. I don't think that'll happen! Meanwhile, a country like North Korea, with it's vastly different ideology and whose conscript troops and scientists are paid with little more than food, clothing, shelter, and the "privilege" of living, and who probably appropriated much of the design details from elsewhere, could probably deliver one today for as little as one-half to perhaps even as little as one-tenth that cost.

    I don't know how accurate this is, but the data, such as my 5% guess, comes from sources such as this and that, a quote from the latter of which is: "...in the late 1950s the total budget was probably close to $15 billion," so I think I'm at least within an order of magnitude.

    Does this answer your question?

    Getting back to the idea of a third world country selling one, you have to factor in all sorts of additional costs, including dodging AEC supervision, and underwriting the economic effects of sanctions and embargoes. That's not cheap, particularly when you consider how a small impact today can have huge long-term impacts. Just look at the economic difference between North Korea and South Korea, or similar neighbors such as Taiwan.

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