The MY Missile
Copyright 1997 by Paul Niquette.  All rights reserved.
 
One of the best kept secrets of the Cold War was that the Soviets were developing a strategic weapon to match the Peacekeeper in the U.S., which was known to most of the world as the MX Missile. The Russians, naturally, called theirs the MY Missile. {Background}  MY missiles were to be moved in and out of launch facilities on tracked vehicles as a protection against 'counter-force' attacks from the U.S. -- a complicated and expensive 'shell game,' where nuclear-tipped rockets crawl around the countryside from shell to shell.
 
The MY Missile

MY missiles were to be deployed in 'squads.' Each weapon in the squad was to be shuttled into and out of a 'cluster' of four launch facilities. Each launch facility was named for a nearby town. They were to be connected by a common road to a distant Deployment Yard.
 

MY Missile Cluster

Sophisticated solvers will observe that, insofar as whether a missile is IN or OUT of its respective launch complex, there are exactly sixteen possible 'arrangements' within a cluster, as shown in the following table:
 

Agejevo
Belousovo
Chanino
Detcino
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN

Because of that common roadway connecting the four sites to and from the Deployment Yard, changing from one arrangement to another would have required the Soviets to select one missile at a time for movement into or out of its launch complex. Obviously, the sequence shown in the table above wouldnot have been possible.  Here is a sequence that will work, since it requires the movement of only one missile at a time.
 

Agejevo
Belousovo
Chanino
Detcino
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT

However, not all sixteen possible arrangements can be achieved, which is a military disadvantage. U.S. intelligence, using spy satellites, say, would readily be able to anticipate the location of missiles if such a regular pattern were applied to the weapon movements.  Here is one of many sequences that will enable all sixteen possible arrangements while moving only one missile a time.
 

Agejevo
Belousovo
Chanino
Detcino
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
OUT
IN
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
IN
IN
OUT
OUT
OUT

Some missiles have to be moved more frequently than others. The Detcino missile, for example, moves eight times per cycle, while the Agejevo missile moves only twice. This causes extra wear and tear on the Detcino transporter, which is an economic disadvantage.
 

Can you figure out what sequence of moves
the Soviets probably intended to use?

GO TO SOLUTION PAGE


Peacekeeper Missile

Aproposal studied by four American presidents, the Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) entered service in 1986. It had been in development from 1971. That's fifteen years. Called the MX (for missile experimental), the weapon measured 71-foot long with its 'bus,' or fourth stage, located in the front end.

    Remember the word MIRV? The MX carried multiple, independently targetable vehicles capable of destroying a dozen targets. Whoopee.
The MX had a range of approximately 7,000 miles and several times the firepower of the Minuteman III, which it was designed to replace. In addition, the MX's extremely accurate guidance -- an inertial system capable of being updated in flight by signals from navigation satellites -- gave its 300-kiloton warheads greater potential to demolish reinforced missile silos and command bunkers in the Soviet Union.  Several types of bases for the MX were considered in order to evade attack by Soviet ICBMs, which lagged behind U.S. ICBMs in accuracy but were far more powerful. These included launching by air from huge transport jets, 'deep basing' in silos located more than 1,000 feet underground, and as suggested in this puzzle, shuttling the missiles continuously on trucks or rail cars among 'multiple protective shelters.'
    One concept was to group silos close together in 'dense packs,' so that incoming nuclear warheads would destroy or deflect one another. Huh?
All of the concealment modes for MX proved to be prohibitively expensive, and none was politically popular. In 1983 it was decided to place the missiles in Minuteman III silos. Although plans called for 100 Peacekeepers, only 50 were authorized for deployment, all at Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

Along came the "counter-force" strategy, which ran contrary to the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (aptly abbreviated MAD). Instead of directing their ungodly ordnance upon cities and people, the planners in both the Kremlin and the Pentagon would have targeted silos and missiles. Which seems polite enough, though hardly sophisticated: The policy, even if perfectly balanced, meant that neither side would be able to 'absorb a first strike' and then retaliate.

    Retaliate? Against what? Empty silos? Like, duh.
The counter-force strategy necessitated the "launch on warning" policy.  That cut the time for contemplation by governmental authorities from hours to minutes, giving rise to a doctrine that one shivering wag described as MAM -- "mutually assured miscalculation" (see A Certain Bicyclist, Resource Books, 1987). {Return}