D+18 1608-1620 Zulu 27 July, 1987

Washington DC 1608 Zulu (1208 Local Time)

Things were moving faster now. The first flight of helicopters were approaching the Pentagon, White House, and Capitol Hill. The Central Locator Service was activated and the locations of every person in the presidential line of succession were being confirmed and passed along to HMX-1.  At each of the above-mentioned locations Secret Service detachments were already in action and moving the principals to the designated points of departure. As more details about the emergency became known and present locations identified, decisions about the individual members of the line of succession. RAWHIDE, as President Reagan was known in Secret Service code word terminology, was the priority. He would be helicoptered to Andrews and the moment he was aboard NEACP, the E-4B would be rolling. Those who were able to make it to Andrews before RAWHIDE would depart on NEACP-Primary. Those that weren’t, would depart on NEACP-Alternate, or be evacuated to other locations outside of the DC area for the moment.

Unfortunately, the number of other advisers and members of the line of succession who’d make it to Andrews before or after RAWHIDE was small. The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were the only two men who would reach Andrews before or simultaneous to the arrival of the president. Both were in their Pentagon offices and were now headed to the Pentagon helipad. Vice President George Bush was at the CIA headquarters building in Langley, Virginia. A helicopter from the second flight would pick him up and shuttle him to Andrews in time to board NEACP-Alternate. According to the plan, Speaker of the House Jim Wright, third in the line of succession, was to be helicoptered to the Mount Weather. Secretary of State George Schultz would go to Site R, the underground bunker in southern Pennsylvania, not very far from the Maryland border.

At the State Department, staff members were starting to contact allied governments and set the stage for Reagan’s calls once NEACP was airborne. On the other side of the river at the Pentagon, US Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch was issuing orders to initiate a missile threat conference. When this was completed, he would leave on the next helicopter for Andrews and NEACP-Alternate.

At 1610:33 President Reagan, the First Lady and a small group of aides and advisers boarded the VH-3D on the South Lawn of the White House. The moment Reagan was onboard, the callsign of the rotary wing aircraft automatically changed to Marine One. Once he was seated and secure, the helicopter leapt into air and streaked south towards Andrews AFB.

Tatishchevo Missile Field, Saratov, Russia  1616 Zulu (2016 Local Time)

The orders sent through the nuclear communicator by General Secretary Romanov were Designated Time Release orders specifying targets, number of missiles and warheads for each, and the launch time. Once the orders were authenticated, the launches were automatic. The missiles selected for this sortie were SS-19 Mod 3 Stilettos. This ICBM was a two-stage liquid-fueled rocket armed with four Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles. For the purpose of the demonstration/warning, only two of the warheads were armed and fused once the new target data was uploaded to each bird.

At 1620:22 the hardened-blast doors of two silos slid open simultaneously. The first sortie’s booster rocket ignited and five seconds later the missile cleared its underground silo. The second one followed less than ten seconds later.

14 Replies to “D+18 1608-1620 Zulu 27 July, 1987”

  1. 4 warheads for Alert? That is overkill to the max!
    Since the US has been at war for a while I would think the VP would’ve been nowhere near DC. Maybe shifting between cities or bases on the E-4. Same goes for some of the non-essential cabinet members. I think there a series of unmarked semi-trucks that would roam the highways with a security team.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. 4 MIRVs but only two armed. You know, in case one is faulty. Russian hardware 🙂 That would’ve held true in the first week or so of the war, keeping the VP or another member of the line of succession out of town. But I think as the war went on with no visible signs of escalation, things would’ve relaxed somewhat. I’ve heard of those trucks. Pretty interesting piece of Cold War history.

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      1. If I remember correctly, “Arc Light” refers to the Ground-Mobile Command Center trucks (they have their own article in wikipedia now). It seems that there has been little written about them, along with SAC’s base reconstitution teams. I think that CoG would have been active during the past couple of weeks (far more than peacetime), but tI’m sure that there would have been “creep” of staffers back to their homes and offices as well.
        On a related note, we usually drive near Mt. Weather on our yearly trip to the OBX. It’s funny how you can point out such a “secret” facility in the distance.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, Mount Weather’s secret is pretty well known now. Same with Greenbriar. Nobody knew there was a large bunker underneath the resort until an ABC reporter leaked it after the Cold War ended.
          As for those small teams of government officials, yeah they’d be out there at numerous sites just waiting incase needed. Same with SAC reconstitution teams and the GMCC semis. Just waiting and praying they won’t be needed.

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              1. In By Dawn at least the world survived. Happy ending, so to speak. In Threads and Day After, the world essentially ended.

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  2. The skies over dc must be pretty crowded. Besides HMX-1 with their VH-3s and VH-46s coming up from quantico, you’d have 12th Aviation Battalion with their VH-1s and 1st Helicopter Squadron with N model Hueys all making pickups. Good news is most of the “off shift” workers at places like NMCC, etc can move to remote pickup sites so that’ll cut down on some of the congestion.

    I imagine it’s going to be pretty tense until projected points of impact are confirmed and DSP doesn’t see further launches or OTH-B doesn’t see the Soviets flushing their strategic bombers toward the Arctic staging bases. The BUGOUT launches should keep the bomber force safe, and the ssbns are either at sea or no doubt being prepared for rapid sailing. So things should be postured to ride out the Soviet first strike. That’s a lot of strike assets survived to de escalate the situation. I always heard support troops were supposed to disperse after launching the force to establish recovery and regeneration sites, which should keep the strategic force in business if things don’t deescalate.

    That said, I’ll bet there’s some support troops at places like Griffins and Barksdale watching the MITO smoke disperse and debating whether they should try to make it far enough away, or make one last trip to the class 6 and enjoy the show.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Mr. President, we are still looking at possible military targets with our intelligence staff. However, for the civilian target we need a large, communist-held city, outside the Soviet Union, and one which will not trigger further escalation…

    Therefore, JCS recommends San Francisco, California as the second target.”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Seriously, I could hear myself breathing as I typed the lat/long into Maps. It is gripping, horrifying, and a potent reminder of why the “good old days,” weren’t so great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. Two are fused. The other two MIRVs will stay inert and just be vaporized by the detonations of the first two, more or less

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