pix1_011215Even with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and heightened tensions, it is very unlikely that the United States will ever directly face off against Russia. A shooting war with Russia would almost certain end poorly for all concerned. Modern Russia is not the Soviet Union, but it is still possesses a very formidable arsenal of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. Moreover, given the uneven state of Russia’s conventional forces—which have greatly atrophied since the Soviet collapse—the country relies much more heavily on its strategic deterrent to ward off enemies than the USSR ever did. Indeed, in November 1993, Russia dropped the Soviet Union’s pledge not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into any conflict. Instead Russia reserves the right to use its nuclear weapons under a doctrine that it paradoxically calls “de-escalation.” The bottom line is that the United States is not going to engage Russia in a war—however it might face Russian weapons during a conventional conflict where those weapons have been sold abroad. Therefore, the article won’t address the most obviously dangerous Russian weapons—such as nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered submarines—but will instead focus on systems that American forces may realistically face in combat one day. More