Advancements in Weapons During the Cold War

The Growing Nuclear Threat

The threat of complete nuclear destruction became greater with the US detonation of the world first hydrogen bomb on November 1, 1952. One year later on August 12 1953 the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb. the threat grew even greater on October 22, 1955 with the soviet detonation of the Tsar bomb. This was the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated which was the equivalent to 58 megatons of TNT.
Soviet Tsar bomb

The nuclear threat grew with the development of Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM). These missiles were able to reach large strategic targets wail being a out of the range of the enemy. however with the technology of the day these missile were unreliable to hit their target. Because of this cruise missiles were favored in the early part of the cold war. the only differences between the two missiles were that the cruise missiles used wings and had a shorter range than the ICBM. With that shorter rang the missiles were launched from ship or submarines closer to the target rather from the continental land it was coming from.


Along with the technology for these weapons came some interesting for defense. On March 23, 1983 President Ronald Reagan proposed a plan to stop ICBM's if they were on the way to the United States. The system would use a high-powered laser to shot down any missile that was coming towards the United States. The laser would be mounted on a satellite in near earth orbit. Because of the fact that it was a basically a space anti-missile system, it was given the name Star Wars. However the program failed do to the lack of the complex technology needed for the system.

Advancements in Combat Weapons

The advancements in combat weapons during the cold war mainly focused on the advancement of combat machine guns. During the world wars most of the machine guns used to ones that had to be planted on the ground and had a whole crew to operate it. during the Korean war American military complexes and private complexes were in a rush to find a way to make a hand-held machine gun that was able to be controlled by one person in the middle of a combat zone. most of the machine guns that came out of America were usually unreliable and often jammed. The American combat machine guns were obsolete compared to the Soviets who in 1949 developed the AK-47. By the time the Vietnam war was in full swing the US finally got its weapon. In 1963 the US introduced the M-16 in to combat action. It was soon regarded as the finest rifle in the US arsenal.

Advancements in Aviation Weapons


After WWII military engineers realized the benefits of the use of helicopters on the battle field. Helicopters allowed for troop transport to and from the front lines quicker and easier than modes of ground transportation. helicopters also allowed for troop drops behind enemy lines without risking the solders lives by using Para troopers (Para shoot solders). The development of helicopters became a major priority of the military.

The Korean War saw the first major use of the helicopters on the battle field. the First helicopters used were mostly unarmed and used as scouts to discover enemy positions. They were small and usually only fit 1-2 people. Later in the war the helicopters developed an armered shells and were equipt with weapons, mainly machine guns. But the main use of helicopters during the Korean War was as a troop mover. As the war progressed the helicopters became larger, with stronger engines, to be able to carry large numbers of troops to and from battle.


Soon after the Korean War ended the War in Vietnam began, and the further development of the helicopter continued. The helicopters developed in some ways that were previously unimaginable. Some helicopters were created to be able to carry huge loads like tanks into the battle field. The development of the helicopter also continues in the fact of equipping it for combat. soon during the war helipoters were equipt with heavy machine guns and missiles. But still the main use of helicopters were as troop transporters.



As WWII came to a close the majority of planes were propeller driven. But soon that would change. In 1959 the Soviets developed one of the most feared military jet in human history, the MiG-25. the MiG at the time was the fastest military aircraft in existence. it was equip with a heavy machine gun and guided missiles. The US soon developed a jet fighter of their own. The F-94 Starfire. Later came many other jet fighters. One better than the next. In 1978 the US developed the primer fighter in the US arsenal, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Its was such a successful fighter it is still in use today.

The most interesting development in aviation during the cold war was the development of the stealth aircrafts. These aircrafts are built to avoid detection by radar. In 1981 the first seccessful stealth fighter took to the air, the F-117A Nighthawk. the Development of this fighter lead to the development of many more that soon came. These fighters use mostly classified technology to achieve stealth but for what we do know is that the physical appearance of the aircraft has a lot to do with it. the angled panles that cover the aircrafts bounce the radar ways off and send them in different directions instead if back to where they came from to avoid detection.

Works Cited

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"F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter." inventors, 2011 . Web. 2 May 2011. <>.