Given that in my question, Defeating the revised Snakebot of Doom, the nanite-AI intelligences that control the Snakebot of Doom will prioritise its attacks on the most militarily-capable nations, this then begs the question:

How would we order the nations of modern Earth based on their capability to inflict damage on large, armoured, mobile enemies, in the face of the enemy's sophisticated point-defence and electronic warfare capabilities?

Obviously, this isn't about numbers of foot-soldiers. The SoD can largely ignore any mere rifle-toting infantryman, and concern itself more with missiles or nuke-toting infantrymen. This is more about which nations are best able to deliver big bangs accurately to a target moving at moderate speeds over as short a timeframe as possible.

Would I be correct in assuming that the USA is the most capable nation in this fashion? What other nations would be able to respond with nuclear weapons? Which would be able to launch them, and which would have to use their atomic weapons as mines? Are there any non-nuclear nations with the ability to deal large amounts of damage to an actively-defending mobile structure using conventional weapons?

Please don't mention any speculative or futuristic weapons, such as rail guns or orbital kinetic "rods from the gods", unless you have evidence that - despite current indications - there are nations that have actually deployed such weapons.


4 Answers 4


Credit Suisse (a bank!) developed a list of nations by military strength. Global Firepower does a similar list.

Because I'm bored and I like spreadsheets, I did a transformation to a 0-1 scale for both and averaged the two lists together. Results:

  • USA 1.00
  • Russia 0.87
  • China 0.85
  • India 0.56
  • Japan 0.46
  • France 0.45
  • United Kingdom 0.37
  • Italy 0.32
  • South Korea 0.32
  • Turkey 0.30
  • Pakistan 0.22
  • Egypt 0.19
  • Israel 0.15
  • Taiwan 0.14
  • Germany 0.13
  • Australia 0.12
  • Thailand 0.11
  • Poland 0.09
  • Indonesia 0.05
  • Canada 0.00

Haha, Canada. But seriously, anyone who thinks Egypt could take Israel in a war straight up has not been paying attention. But those are the numbers, according to the internet.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The links were more useful than the list you actually posted, but this is the only question which has approached being useful. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting but GFP's methodology is awful: it just counts total troops and equipmentin each category, regardless of capabilities or how advanced/obsolete. For example, Egypt's Air Tractor AT-802U planes will be counted as '1 fighter', the same as Israel's F35 $\endgroup$
    – smci
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Russia...turned out to be somewhat inaccurate. $\endgroup$
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 7:09

Just sort nations by industrial output, China would most likely come first, then either Russia or the US.

However I don't predict a long conflict, after China both Russia and the US will be laying Tsar bomb like nuclear mines, even if an effectively point blank hit from one of those doesn't outright destroy it the heat/radiation will cook most of the nanites and what remain won't last the ensuring nuclear & conventional bombardment.

Heat does terrible things to machines and the more sophisticated they are the worse it gets, nanites being the epitome of sophistication would be utterly devastated by heat and radiation. On a larger scale solder melts, wire coatings melt (causing short circuits with cause even more damage), bearings seize (heated metal expands), O-rings melt (all pneumatics and hydraulics fail), glass warps (again it expands when heated, so now all the optics are fuzzy at best), fuel becomes explosive, battery fluids may boil, hydraulic fluid expands, heat also increases electrical resistance which means if you try to fire your railguns they'll just heat up even more.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't this more about current stockpiles and the sophistication of delivery systems than raw industrial output? Once the SoD gets going, there probably won't be much time to build new nukes before things are decided one way or the other. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ Laying Tsar bomb like mines? That's fifty megatons! Typical ICBM nuclear warheads are 100 kilotons. However, there's a lot of sense in an industrial output ranking of target nations. Heat is an excellent counter-strategy. What about napalm and thermite weapons? Couldn't they cook nanites too? $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Monty Wild the world is a big place and the snakebot will be constantly under attack, to destroy all of China in a month it would have to be moving at an incredible pace. $\endgroup$
    – Cognisant
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Sure if you can convince it to stop moving, burrowing, swimming, rolling, and yeah the Tsar mines are overkill but that's the point, no way to escape, no way to recover, no way to fight back. $\endgroup$
    – Cognisant
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Tsar bomb wight 20+tonnes - so there is more then one option to deploy it. ICBM warhead are independent systems, so no needs to build new weapon, but just mount red button on warhead. You gave too much weaknesses to SoD, so it have no chances, even when it's above our current tech limit to build, it is within our limit to destroy it. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 22:57

In my opinion, it wouldn't prioritize the most military-capable nations, but rather smaller nations which wouldn't incur the wrath of a nuclear power, and expand into many Doom Snakes, also it will realize nuclear war is imminent and use large scale smoke in mask its location. If it is fighting a nuclear power it will use cities and other populated areas, to avoid a nuclear attack.

Almost all of the nuclear nations in our planet are capable of ICBM, once within range, (Russia, USA, and China have worldwide range) will take it about 30-45 minutes to hit the target. MIRVs for multiple targets/ creating decoys and SLBM for quick repose if nuclear submarine is near by. List of countries with nuclear capabilities under NATO include Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey (Needs permission/approval). Other than that Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, USA, Russia and China all have nuclear missiles.

No country would use atomic weapons as mines, even the crude ones (Pakistan, North Korea) use it with a bomber, there are also few artillery nuclear weapons if combat is much more closer. Even Non-Nuclear countries would be able to defend it with heavy artillery and bombardments, wouldn't not be as effect as a single nuke, but modern warring nations would decimate it with shear raw force because planes/Jet are much faster and better at warfare than a terrestrial object.

If a nanite-AI capable of what you describe exists, it would easily defeat human forces, even with nuclear weapon with a different more tactical strategy.

Most likely to least likely

1) Tier 1 Countries either with nuclear weapons or strongly allied (existing treating) with nations with nuclear weapons, List is not limited to this USA and Nato, which is all of EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Also Japan, South Korea, and Philippines,Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, North Korea. Also Countries which are very close to a nuclear nation, as it would see it as a very imminent threat, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Mexico, Mongolia Few of the Middle eastern countries, Most of Caribbean, Oceania Islands. Might also include countries which a nuclear power is in war with, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Also countries would defend economical interest like Panama or Suez canal.

2) Tier 2 would be non nuclear countries with immense military power, Brazil, and some South American Countries which are a little stable, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore.

3) Tier 3 countries, have very little chance of defeating, with little to no advanced bombers, Countries already at civil war, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Most African countries some north African and Middle east countries, Papa New Guinea, Cambodia remote Islands.

4) Tier 4 Countries which cannot defend, nor would the doom snake be interested as lack resources, Includes North African Countries, Deserts, Antarctica.

If countries would be fighting alone without any allies the list would much more different.

  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't address the question: How to order the nations of Earth from most to least capable of dealing with the SoD. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ They'd use mines if it has ridiculously effective point-defences. $\endgroup$
    – Cognisant
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Here is a Tier List, but under most situations, countries will come forward in defending. $\endgroup$
    – Chinu
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Cognisant it takes 2-3 minutes for ICBM from re-entry to target, this with Multiple Independent, Re target-able vehicles and considering a decent payload of nuclear weapons has a blast radius of about 10-15 km, It doesnt matter how ridiculously effective point defenses are they just denote a few dozen near it, and Doom Snake will die. $\endgroup$
    – Chinu
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 4:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Chinu if you have a different question than the current one, you can consider asking it, even if the world isn't yours. The OP might have some untold reasons to go that way. And a good answer on Stack Exchange isn't answering what you think the question should be, but more what the question is. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 7:24

The Snake wouldn't be concerned with raw firepower until humans are desperate. It will initially be concerned with maintaining it's information feed.

My problem with both of the current answers is that they don't address how the military is divided, nor the investment in weapon types by each of the said militaries. The SoDs largest threat by and far large is airpower. Not normal nuke the area with atomic weapons airpower, although countries will resort to that if necessary, but precision airpower exploiting the SoD's massive weakness of LOX. If I was the SoD, I would primarily be concerned with two things - the NSA and the United States Navy. Obviously no force is going to win a gunslinging match, so you need to blind and deafen the the SoD before you drop your LOX JDAMs onto the it. The NSA and other similiar agencies can actively work to shut down it's connections to the larger internet, or at worst work to shut down internet infrastructure. The US Navy in particular is important because it has the best network of mobile EM jammers in the world in the EA-18G Growler. If your Snake is blind, it doesn't matter how big a stick we're using. We can prod it to death. Therefore, the US is easily first. Then the list will likely split between Intelligence capabilities and EW capabilities.

  • $\begingroup$ What "massive weakness of LOX"? The SoD is no more vulnerable to liquid oxygen than any sealed structure. Sure, it's structure includes compounds that are flammable, but the flammable internals are sealed away behind armour, and the internals are flooded with pretty pure Nitrogen. You'd need to penetrate 14 meters of armour in at least two places to allow any significant amount of oxygen inside. In case you didn't notice, I never accepted the LOX answer to my previous question. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 2:27

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