What is a nuclear warhead?
2015-02-06 14:27:38 UTC
So what exactly is a nuclear warhead? I know what a nuclear bomb is. The ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII. I also know they took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. So I was looking for how many bombs countries had and I saw that the U.S had 7,000 and Russia had 8,500 warheads. I was pretty shocked because I thought warhead meant bomb. How could there be 15,000 plus atomic bombs! One is bad enough but that many?! But I am not sure. Does the term warhead mean the same things as a bomb? If not, how many warheads are in an atomic or nuclear bomb. Say for example, how many atomic bombs could the U.S make with 7,000 warheads and how powerful. Thank you all for your answers and please provide source (s) if possible.
Eleven answers:
2015-02-06 15:59:44 UTC
A warhead is different from a bomb. A bomb is dropped from an Airplane.

A warhead is fitted on top of a missile.

You want to know about numbers? + U.S. Navy Trident Class SSBN Submarine has 24 Long Range Missiles. Each Missile carriers 10 Independently Targeted Warheads, for a total of 240 cities it can destroy. And that is just ONE Submarine.
2015-02-06 14:28:59 UTC
A warhead is the part of the missile that contains the explosive. Every missle/bomb is designed differently there is no hard and fast rule. Cluster Bombs, for example, have multiple warheads.
2015-02-06 14:37:59 UTC
They are exactly the same thing. the only difference is the warhead can be delivered by either a missile or artillery. A bomb needs to be dropped from a plane or set off on the ground.
2015-02-06 15:04:08 UTC
As was stated, a warhead is the explosive component attached to a missile.

There are some 15,000 nuclear devices (that is, bombs and warheads) currently in service worldwide today. That's nothing compared to the 1980's, when there were some 80,000 nuclear devices in service worldwide. The basic idea was to have enough to ensure that the country in question would be able to launch a retaliatory attack to destroy any country that committed a nuclear attack on them.

At that time, a full-scale nuclear war would have killed over a billion people immediately, plus probably another billion or even two billion in the years that immediately followed. Some targets would have been hit by multiple nuclear devices, to ensure their destruction (Washington and Moscow, for instance).

The explosive power of any nuclear device is incredible, but they range in power from being able to destroy a small town to being able to destroy a major city.
2015-02-06 14:40:13 UTC
A nuclear warhead is the explosive head of a missile, torpedo, or similar weapon that contained fission or fusion materials.
2015-02-06 18:01:05 UTC
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were atomic bombs, not nuclear bombs. It may sound like semantics, but there is a technical difference.

You need to go re-research the dead for Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and then subtract out all the military personnel and war-industry workers ... the answer will surprise you as to the actual figure of civilian dead. Of course we killed more in the fire bombings of Tokyo, Dresden, and Hamburg.

For your purposes a bomb and a warhead are the same thing.
2015-02-06 14:34:53 UTC
As the others said, the warhead is the part of the missile with the nuclear device in it. The rest is guidance, fuel, engine, etc.

Per the numbers, I suspect that is a count of missiles. But in many cases, a single missile may contain multiple re-entry vehicles and thus multiple bits that go boom. If you've heard the term MIRV, it refers to Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles. Such missiles can destroy many targets in the same general vicinity.

It's possible to thereby inflate the count by counting each MIRV. But 7k and 8.5k sound pretty likely to be entire missiles. Rememeber, during the cold war the idea was that an enemy first strike might get some of your missiles wiped out before they got off. Also, some missile operators would not fire due to conscience. Many drills confirmed this as operators refused to fire during an exercise they were lead to believe was real.

So you wanted more than you really needed to ensure that statistically, enough would get out that your foe would NEVER push the button.
Joseph the Second
2015-02-06 14:29:30 UTC
It's THAT Front Portion of the Bomb- that ultimately Results in the Nuclear Explosion. :(
2015-02-06 14:43:36 UTC
There are many types of nuclear weapons. In every thermonuclear weapon there is a fission core about the kiloton yield of the bombs dropped on Japan. The core creates enough heat to fuse the Deuterium to make a megaton yield and adding a small amount of Tritium to the mix increases the yield by one third.
2015-02-06 15:47:25 UTC
For your purposes, yes one warhead is the same as one bomb.
2015-02-06 17:37:07 UTC
It is the part of a missile that goes "boom."

Estimates of killed and wounded in Hiroshima (150,000) and

Nagasaki (75,000).

BTW, more Japanese died in the fire bombing raids of Tokyo than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.


Major, Sqdn Cmdr, USAF, 1960-74

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