Thats because NATO fights are against third world countries.. in low level easy wars.. and they go cheap.. but in a world war 3 , they do have the capabilities to fight many thousands projectiles.... between Cruise missiles , Rocket artillery , and Air to Ground missiles.
They go cheap?
B-2s in the Kosovo conflict is cheap?
Apart from cruise missiles no other ordinance available to the US has the range to be delivered outside the range of Russian SAM defences.
To launch all these weapons would require the mobilisation of enormous forces... which would not go unnoticed either.
in IRAQ war for example US alone launched 800 cruise missiles in just 2 days..
They had over 6 months to prepare for that attack and it still took 2 days to fire just 800 missiles? That is about 7 per hour... even the most pathetic old S-300 system from the 1970s could shoot those down at that rate... and even OSA was shooting down those cruise missiles as witnessed by western reporters in Iraq.
NATO could fill their enemy radars Airspace easily with several thousands targets without problem.
Such an attack would warrant a tactical nuclear strike on airfields and ports used to mount the attacks from.
I generally roll my eyes a bit when Garry suggests that Russia would go nuclear over some low-level attack on its territory by NATO... but 5000 cruise missiles (if that's even possible) might just warrant a nuclear response.
Putin has stated that any attack from anyone on strategic assets of Russia... which would include political, military, and economic targets I presume... and Russia reserves the right to retaliate with nuclear weapons. You work it out.
Just look at Klub. It is based on the Granat also known to NATO as SS-N-21. A 2,500km range nuclear armed cruise missile. Unlike the western model the Granat didn't have terminal homing and did not have a CEP of 25m so there was no conventional armed model... it was only nuclear and had a CEP of 250m.
A CEP of 250m is worthless for a HE warhead on conventional targets, but easily good enough for a small nuclear warhead.
Modern technology however has meant improvements in guidance technology so now the new missiles have much better accuracy... reportedly less than a 20m CEP... some say 10m. This has meant accuracy is no good enough that conventional warheads become an option and the choices when making attacks can now include all conventional weapons with a reasonable chance of success. In other words precision conventional weapons can now do jobs previously only a decent sized nuke could do.
This means instead of having to launch a nuclear strike to take out the enemies nuclear capability you might have the option to use conventional weapons to do it.
The fact is that the west has had the capacity to attack and try to take out Soviet/Russian nuclear capabilities with conventional weapons for some time, so of course the Russians not only have dropped their policy of no nukes first the have adopted a policy of strategic attacks will be met with nuclear retaliation... basically a use it before you lose it policy... which is basically common sense.
The number of tactical nukes left in the Russian arsenal is rather low - and given their otherwise large yield, would limit their use vastly in most cases.
Last figure I saw was about 8,000. The US would love to negotiate those away but with ABM systems in Europe and possible systems with Japan and China I rather doubt they will get rid of them any time soon.
I'd be surprised is Russia had even 1000 cruise missiles with a range higher than 1500KM.
Compared with ballistic missiles cruise missiles are very cheap and easy to build.
Of course American ones are expensive...
More specifically, Kh-15 was a nuclear tipped cruise missile. Upgrade was proposed in 1991 but never gone through though
Technically it was a nuclear armed ballistic missile.
If NATO fires missiles from subs or bombers - what are you going to nuke? A military airport next to a civilian center or the middle of an ocean?!
Obviously shooting down the bombers and cruise missiles would be the first priority, and dropping a few anti sub torpedoes in the water near where the cruise missiles appeared would likely also be considered too.
Deterrent doesn't work if your enemy doesn't think you will use them... if you don't use them when your enemy blatantly attacks you when would you use them?