With the deployment of the Dead Hand system or the Perimeter as the Russians call it, the world for the first time felt the presence of a force so immense, whose inception meant mutually assured destruction of the world.

A concept once on paper was carved into reality in the 1980s. The system was a game-changer with regard to Russia as no one dared to attempt a first strike on the country with the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) now in practice. This is by far the most powerful defense system developed by mankind and so becomes absolutely important for us to understand the intricacies of it.

According to Viktor Yesin, commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Force in the 1990s, any nuclear strike from American soil would give Russia ample of time to respond as the warheads would take several minutes to reach its target during which Russia's decision-makers would be able to command the commencement of nuclear doctrine.

But in the event of a nuclear attack from eastern Europe, the scenario would be completely different. The warheads would reach Moscow within a few minutes, not giving Russia any time to assess the situation and respond eventually, therefore crippling Russia off its strategic advantage. It was this concern which forced Russia to develop a deterrence system that would ensure a proper befitting reply to the aggressors.

Dead Hand or the Doomsday Machine was the Russian style of reply. The system was designed to avoid any human intervention. Dead Hand follows a set of procedures to ensure all the check boxes are ticked before any strike is initiated. In the event of a complete wipe out of Russian cities and no decision-maker alive, the system would start evaluating the scale of attack by measuring the radiation level on the surface across the country.

It will then try to establish contact with all command centers across the soil. If that fails, the system would try to establish contact with any existing command by launching a communication rocket across the country to eliminate the problem of communication loss. If the communication is not established, Dead Hand would get activated.

Once the system gets a go-ahead, there will be a series of launch from all over the country consisting of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), and Thermonuclear Bombs which will rain havoc across the world. These thermonuclear bombs are specially designed to create long-lasting radioactive fallout. The idea would be that even if the aggressor is able to defend itself, the radioactive fallout across the world will eventually reach every corner of habitance.

Although US never developed a system similar to the doomsday machine, they were able to develop the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The interesting part is that years after the end of cold-war, no country is believed to have build such a system quoting the price associated with it. But that has not stopped economies from building and investing in technologies for defence purposes. Today, nuclear bombs have become a show of strength. Countries have realized the danger associated with nuclear bombs and have rather decided to invest in alternative methods of warfare.

In the 21st century, armies talk about the hybrid war. In multi-dimensional warfare where cyber, space, and economy play an equal role as that of army, navy, and air force. Previously when I said that economies are not shying away from investing in defense technologies, I meant that economies now have realized the importance of the newly developed dimensions of war. Countries like India, China, France, and many other superpowers of the world are making their way into the world of cyber warfare and space expansion. Countries are teaching their children to be smarter and grow up with and intricate knowledge of future technology.

Image of a Missile Launcher

The means of warfare may have changed but the war is still on. Maybe the Dead Hand may not be so relevant in this modern era but the fact that these advancements in technologies are the basis of today's style of war remains unchanged. Dead Hand was an engineering marvel and is likely to remain so until one of us decides to unleash its havoc upon the world which we acknowledge.