Maximum collateral damage attack on the US by Russia, OPEN-RISOP by David Teter

David Risop, a former advisor to USSTRATCOM, DIA, and DTRA on strategic plans (SIOP/OPLANs 8044/8010), kinetic and non-kinetic weapon effects, vulnerability analysis, and targeting: compiled several estimated US targeting lists for the Russian warplans. This is a short visualization of the one set of results in the Nuclear War Simulator program.

Visualization and results of the Max Collateral Damage scenario from the OPEN-RISOP database
by David Teter (
US fatalities: 104.24 million
More details:


So the quick summary is that an all-out nuclear attack would be devastating. But we knew that already. That is why a country should be very careful to avoid manoeuvering its nuclear-armed opponent into a position where it has to push the button. Actively supporting a vile regime in the Ukraine which was pursuing ethnic cleansing against Russian-speaking Ukrainians would be an example of something a smart government would not do.

Interestingly, some pundits are now pointing out that – in the very unlikely event that an opponent was able to sneak thousands of attackers across a border that a foolish government deliberately left open – those attackers could accomplish a broadly similar objective by a coordinated attack on power, water, & wastewater infrastructure. There are many ways to skin a cat.


The reviews of Nuclear War Simulator on Steam are distinctly mixed. For example:

As an academic researching uclear strategy, I say: DON’T BUY THIS PRODUCT!!!

Overly priced Nuclear simulation, when you could get the same thing for free with Nuke Map. I regret buying this.

I wrote my master thesis in war studies about Nuclear strategy, so I was actually interested to see what this could do. Turned out, it didn’t really offer much. It basically just shows what the effects of a nuclear strike is; nothing about how an actual nuclear conflict would be fought or how nuclear weapons could be used to achieve different strategic objectives.

The scenarios aren’t really realistic either; I tried to set up a scenario involving a conflict between Sweden and Russia. For some reason, Sweden started nuking Russia,. Not really a realistic outcome. I tried a different scenario to simulate a conflict between NATO and Russia. China started the whole thing with nuking Germany, and then the US responded by nuking France. And for some reason, Denmark nuked Ireland.

This is not a nuclear war simulator; it’s an overly priced nuclear explosion simulator.

Don’t buy this “simulator”. Just go on nukemap and get the same thing for free.

Well, I suppose there is something to be said for nuking France, just on general principles….

I do recommend Alex Wellerstein’s NUKEMAP, which has been available for free on the Web since 2012. It lets you select the target, yield, and burst height, then calculates the fireball, radiation, blast, and thermal radiation radii, displaying all superimposed on MapLibre imagery. Here is an experiment I just ran with a U.S. W80 cruise missile warhead at maximum yield of 150 kt in an optimal airburst above Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Here is a link to repeat this detonation.

The companion MISSILEMAP allows modeling a missile attack, here from Fourmilab to the aforementioned target.


The more analytically inclined may find Fourmilab’s on-line Strangelove Slide Rule useful in evaluating weapons effects, as described in the on-line edition of the 1977 book, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons.


There is a certain fascination with the immediate impacts of a large nuclear explosion, and with the delayed impacts of nuclear fallout – although we have to note that in the two real world nuclear attacks, fallout has not stopped Hiroshima and Nagasaki becoming much more livable places than, say, unbombed Detroit or San Francisco.

What I wonder about is the indirect effects of associated disruptions to infrastructure in a now highly-specialized society. As one example, consider the case of China, where most people live in 30-storey apartment blocks. Attacks which took out relatively few electric power stations would disable elevators, and access to people’s living spaces would become extremely difficult for many. Social chaos would likely follow. Similarly, taking out relatively few oil refineries or pipelines would disrupt the truck-based food distribution on which most of the developed world relies. Again, the real damage would come from social chaos.

2005’s Hurricane Katrina caused immense infrastructure damage to New Orleans – but the social damage was limited because of the ability of the rest of US to send immediate assistance. If many areas were damaged simultaneously, the social outcome from infrastructure damage could be much worse.


I worry about this often, as even the complexities of ordinary, daily domestic life are failing - and frequently (in my development of ~300 30 year-old homes, e.g., many are now beset with pinpoint water leaks from copper pipes; these were code-required and interact with minerals in the local hard water to somehow corrode the pipes from within; wet ceilings and walls everywhere, torn out to replace pipes. One example among many). Actors with a bit of strategic and tactical information, I fear, could disrupt vast swaths of the US with a few organized, well-placed disruptions of a low-tech and simple nature. Most sadly, the illegal and/or diverse among us have demonstrated that they are analogous to dry tinder. A small, well-placed spark would almost certainly result in their spontaneously acting in random, chaotic fashion so as to become a force multiplier in the wake of any kind of disruption like those cited. Kind of a self-sustaining chain reaction of anti-social behavior.


As Matthew Bracken (author of the “Enemies” trilogy) observed:


A typical U.S. city has around three days’ food supply on hand, with restocking highly optimised for “just in time” minimisation of inventory. Disrupt transportation, refrigerated storage, or the computer systems that manage inventory and delivery and within a week it’s Mogadishu. This scenario is sketched in “Day Three” of Kurt Schlichter’s new novel, The Attack.