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Nuclear Weapons are the most common and well-known examples of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). While the Ares Conventions were meant to try and prevent their usage, they have played a pivotal and horrific role in shaping the nature of the Inner Sphere.
By the thirty-first century most nuclear weapons were ancient, dating back to the time of the Amaris Crisis or the early Succession Wars, but many nations in the Inner Sphere and Periphery periodically refurbish their stockpiles, if only to maintain a secret level of readiness or as a last desperate gambit. To actually use a nuclear weapon is considered a "crime against humanity" per Articles I and VI of the Ares Convention, however many governments are willing to look the other way when "extreme circumstances" warrant their use.
Standard Nuclear Weapons
While a wide variety of tactical nuclear weapons exist, there are a number of common models which can be found in the arsenals of most militaries. There also exist larger strategic weapons, which includes anything greater than 500 kilotons up to the massive 50 megaton warheads deployed during the Amaris Crisis and the early Succession Wars.
The Elias is an extremely compact, one fiftieth of a kiloton (or one decaton) nuclear device created by the Federated Suns. This type of nuclear weapon, while not common to terrorists, can occasionally slip through, and be used as "backpack bombs". They are intended to be used as satchel charges, or in some cases used as landmines. These have a blast radius of half a kilometer for their secondary blast characteristics, and their primary blast characteristic is half that.
The Davy Crockett is a compact half-kiloton nuclear device available in two different variations. The Davy Crockett-I is a one-shot infantry support weapon carried at the platoon level. Besides the warhead itself this version includes a special launcher system and booster rockets, weighing in total three tons. Unfortunately, the Davy Crockett-I has a maximum range of a little over one kilometer, which means the attacking infantry are as likely to be caught within the blast effect as the defenders are; as such they are not popular among the troops. The Davy Crockett-M meanwhile, can be launched via Arrow IV or Long Tom and, while heavier than normal rounds at one ton each, behave exactly as their normal munitions do. Both versions of the Davy Crockett operate in ground-burst mode only.
The Alamo is a 5 kiloton nuclear missile which can be carried by aerospace and conventional fighters. They can be used either in space or in an atmosphere to attack air and ground targets, but don't have the range for orbital bombardments or to attack targets in orbit while in an atmosphere. Though fairly lightweight at only five tons, an Alamo still negatively affects the carrying fighter's flight characteristics per missile carried (only fighters of 50 tons or greater can carry an Alamo, while only a 100-ton fighter can carry two). When used in an atmosphere an Alamo can either operate in ground- or air-burst modes with a range of over ten kilometers, which it can travel in just twenty seconds.
The Santa Ana is a 50 kiloton nuclear warhead mounted on a White Shark missile, allowing it to be launched from a White Shark or AR-10 launcher. In addition to being fired by WarShips at other space targets or to perform planetary bombardments, special purpose-built missile silos can launch these missiles at orbital or surface targets. When operating within an atmosphere the missile has a maximum range of 5,000 kilometers, which it can travel in approximately eleven and a half minutes.
The Peacemaker is a 500 kiloton nuclear missile, the largest tactical nuclear weapon, which is based on the Killer Whale missile and can be fired from an appropriate launcher. It can also be launched by purpose-built silos to attack either surface or orbital targets. When operating in an atmosphere, the Peacemaker takes just a little over twenty-three minutes to travel its maximum range of 10,000 kilometers.
Asset Management Weapon
The Asset Management Weapon or AMW was created initially by House Marik of the Free Worlds League by completely stripping out nearly all of the components in a Barracuda Capital Missile. This is the single largest known named payload deployed at three megatons, and was extensively used by all sides in the First Succession War. These weapons proved ineffective at capital scale space warfare due to the lack of targeting systems, but were extraordinarily destructive against planetary surfaces, where they "removed strategic assets" such as manufacturing complexes extremely effectively.
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, pp. 130-131, "Nuclear Weapons"
- Interstellar Operations pp. 169-177 Nuclear Weapons
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, p. 134, "Standard Nuclear Weapons"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 196, "Nuclear Weapons"
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, p. 135, "Peacemaker"