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.