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"Nuclear launch detected."

- A notification that someone or something is about to be nuked(src)

A nuclear blast

The nuclear missile, or nuke, is a terran weapon of mass destruction, fired from a structure, vehicle, or starship. The modern version must be guided to its destination by a ghost.[1]


"Whenever I see a world untouched by war, a world of innocence, a world of lush forests and clear rivers... I really just wanna nuke the crap out of it!"

- A ghost(src)

A nuclear strike made against zerg queen's nests

Nuclear weapons were first developed by humans during the 20th century on Earth. Following the Long Sleep, the Koprulu Sector colonials redeveloped these weapons. They were deployed during the Guild Wars.[2]

In 2491,[3] the Terran Confederacy bombarded Korhal IV with one thousand Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles to suppress the rebellion of Korhal. Life on the world was devastated and millions killed.[1] However Arcturus Mengsk, the rebel leader, was off world at the time and proceeded to rebuild the movement.[4]

Bomby weather with a chance of mushroom clouds

As a political consequence, the destruction of Korhal forced the Confederates to limit themselves to tactical weapons. Battlefield targeting was provided by ghosts to prevent outside tampering to the missile guidance systems.[1] The scenario used to train ghosts to direct nukes is the extremely lifelike holo-projection simulation, Scenario A11-X93, more commonly known as Nukes Away.[5]

The cataclysm removed the inhibitions the remaining Korhalians had on using their own arsenal.[6]

By 2501, Dominion ghosts were directing much smaller Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles as tactical weapons.[7] Some battlecruisers were outfitted with ten-kiloton tactical warheads for ship-to-ship combat and ground bombardments.[8]

Game Ability[]


The nuclear blast effect (StarCraft: Remastered)

In StarCraft, nukes are built within a nuclear silo, an add-on to the command center. Each Nuclear missile takes up 8 supply.

InterNuke Terran SC1.PNG
Nuclear Strike

A nuclear silo may build and store one missile each.

A ghost launches and "aims" the nuclear missile at a targeted location. The missile arrives 14 seconds after. The ghost must aim for the entire duration; if the ghost takes any other action, or the ghost is killed, or the missile is cancelled, the launch is aborted and the missile is wasted.

The launch is broadcast to all players with the audio and visual message "Nuclear Launch Detected." The targeted location is visible to all players as a small flashing red dot.

The missile deals 500 damage or removes two-thirds of total hit points (whichever is greater) to all units within a wide blast radius. One nuke kill most units, and critically damage most buildings. Two nukes will destroy nearly anything. Without Ocular Implants, the ghost's targeting distance is within the blast radius.

Hotkey N
Range 8 or 10 (1 less than ghost's sight range)
Purchased from Nuclear silo
Cost 200 Minerals 200 Vespene gas 8 Supply

The dot indicating the point on which the nuclear missile is about to fall can be hidden by various methods. The easiest way is to place an air unit over the point so that the dot is effectively hidden. When fighting against the zerg, targeting a missile on a bleeding zerg structure will also disguise the dot as some of the blood from the structure, and it will be impossible to distinguish the dot. Another easy alternative is to use firebats, whose flames can actually hide the dot as long as both the missile and the firebat are targeting the same structure. In certain cases, targeting a mineral field may also allow for making the dot difficult to see.

StarCraft: Ghost[]

StarCraft Ghost Logo2.jpg

This article or section contains information about StarCraft: Ghost, which has been declared non-canon. Elements may be taken as 'flavor lore' however.
The content may be significantly out of date. Please do not add speculation to this article, and remember to cite a published source for details.

In StarCraft: Ghost, nuclear strikes could be called down by Nova.[9] Tactical nuke launchers also existed in the game.[10]

StarCraft II[]

"Time to call down the thunder!"


The nuclear missile in StarCraft II

In StarCraft II, nuclear missiles are once again directed by ghosts. Unlike in the original StarCraft, nuclear missiles do not take up supply.

ArmNuke SC2 Icon1.jpg
Arm Silo with Nuke

Arms the silo with a tactical nuke.

Nukes take 20 seconds to land, but they deal up to 300 (+200 vs. structures) damage in a large radius.

Purchased from Ghost Academy
Hotkey N
Cost 100 Minerals 100 Vespene gas 43seconds
Required Factory
Nuke SC2 Icon1.jpg
Nuclear Strike

Ghosts and spectres can call down nuclear strikes, dealing 300 damage + 200 vs buildings.

The launching player sees a large red symbol on the target area while the opponent only sees a red dot. When the ghost is aiming the nuke, it will be "frozen", but it can still be given the order to "move away", which it will do the moment it is unfrozen.

Hotkey N
Cost 100 Minerals 100 Vespene gas 14 second drop time seconds
Range 12

Wings of Liberty[]

In the Wings of Liberty single-player campaign they may also be called down by spectres. They are built in and launched from the ghost academy (with ghosts) or shadow ops (with spectres), and require a factory. Though the nuke's target is still shown as a small red dot to enemies, to the player and allies a large red target with cross hairs shows the nuke's target, with the cross hairs growing closer together as the targeting of the nuke completes. The size of the target approximates the area of effect of the nuke, giving the player and allies a clear area to evacuate from.

The nukes launched by Gabriel Tosh during "Breakout", and Nova during "Ghost of a Chance", deal 700 base damage and an additional 500 against structures, and land faster than nukes launched by ghosts or spectres.[11][12] During "Engine of Destruction", the Odin carries a nuke,[13] but this ability is not available when the Odin is controlled in "Media Blitz."[14]

Nuke SC2 Icon1.jpg

Nova can drop a nuke which deals 700 damage + 500 vs structures. This requires a nuclear silo that she has hacked.

Hotkey N

Nova Covert Ops[]

In Nova Covert Ops, nukes are automatically built by the ghost academy without any cost and can be used by Nova.[15]

Co-op Missions[]

Nuclear missiles appear in the "Missile Command" mutator in Co-op Missions as a 100 health unit that will be launched toward the player's base.[16] The mutator "Going Nuclear" also launches random Versus-style nuclear missiles across the map the players have to dodge.

Nukes launched by Nova in Co-op Missions will do 600 damage and will not hurt friendlies.[17]

Han and Horner gain a nuclear blast as part of their Space Station Reallocation ability at Level 14, which detonates when the station expires or is destroyed.[18]

With the upgrade "Big Red Button," Tychus can call down an Odin that can launch a nuclear missile that deals 1000 damage in a large area. This can only be used once per Odin calldown.[19]

At Level 10, Arcturus Mengsk can use Nuclear Annihilation, bombarding an area with tactical missiles before finishing off the target with a nuclear missile.[19]

Nuke SC2 Icon1.jpg
Tac Nuke Strike

Calls down a nuclear strike to target area after 5 seconds, dealing 600 damage to all enemies within a radius 8.

Infiltration Specialist: Increases the Tac Nuke Strike splash radius from 8 to 12 and reduces cooldown by 50%.

Hotkey R
Cost 5 seconds
Range 15
Cooldown 420 (210 with Infiltration Specialist) (Initial cooldown=600)seconds
Mastery: -3 (-1.5 with Infiltration Specialist)seconds per Nuke and Holo Decoy Cooldown mastery point. Down to a minimum 330 (165 with Infiltration Specialist) (Initial cooldown=600) seconds
Campaign Acquisition
Unlock Reach Nova Level 9
Space Station Reallocation Ability Icon.jpg
Space Station Reallocation

Space Station deals 500 damage to Heroic targets it contacts, everything else is instantly destroyed within a radius of 3.8. Launch 12 Assault drones which will attack nearby targets. Lasts 10 seconds.

Have a Blast: On death, the station explodes with a nuclear blast, dealing 300 damage (+200 vs structures) within a radius of 8.

Duration 10 seconds
Cooldown 360 seconds
Campaign Acquisition
Unlock Reach Han and Horner Level 10
BigRedButton Coop Game1.png
Big Red Button

Calls down a Nuclear Strike at a target location. Nukes take 3 seconds to land, but they deal up to 1000 damage in a large area. Replaces Barrage.

Dutiful Dogwalker: Big Red Button is unavailable.

Hotkey Q
Range 15
Duration 3 seconds
Campaign Acquisition
Unlock Reach Tychus Level 15.
Purchased from Engineering bay
Hotkey R
Cost 200 Minerals 200 Vespene gas 90seconds
NuclearAnnihilation CA Icon.png
Nuclear Annihilation

Blankets a target area with a seemingly endless barrage of 20 Tactical Missiles, each dealing 150 (+100 vs structures) damage in a small area, followed by a Nuclear Missile, which deals 500 (+300 vs structures) damage in a large area.

Complete Annihilation: Increases the number of Tactical Missiles dropped by Nuclear Annihilation from 20 to 40.

Toxic Tyrant: Nuclear Annihilation is unavailable.

Hotkey Ctrl+V
Cost 100 Energy
Cooldown 300 seconds

Mastery: +1.5 (+1 vs Structure) damage by Tactical Missiles and +5 (+3 vs Structure) damage by Nuclear Missiles per Terrible Damage mastery point. Up to a maximum 195 (+130 vs Structure) damage by Tactical Missiles and 650 (+390 vs Structure) damage by Nuclear Missile.

Campaign Acquisition
Unlock Reach Mengsk Level 10.


Nuclear launch detected.jpg Nuclear Launch Detected

10 Achievement SC2 Game1.JPEG


Kill 15 enemy units with a single Nuke in an Unranked or Ranked game.


If the player uses the same ghost to drop more nukes he can earn the "Unbreakable!" achievement.


Heroes of the Storm[]

Heroes DevLog2.jpg

The following section contains information from Heroes of the Storm and is not canon to StarCraft continuity

Nuclear missiles are collected by players in the Warhead Junction map of Heroes of the Storm. They can be launched at the enemy team's fortifications.[20]

Nova possessed a nuclear strike ability in Heroes of the Storm.[21] The Odin, as piloted by Tychus Findlay in the game, now possesses this ability.[22]


The dot marks the spot

  • The blast effect of the missile in StarCraft consists of only four colors.[23]
  • There is a humorous message that reads "Take it!" on the side of the nuclear missile in StarCraft II.[24]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Underwood, Peter, Bill Roper, Chris Metzen and Jeffrey Vaughn. StarCraft (Manual). Irvine, Calif.: Blizzard Entertainment, 1998.
  2. Dietz, William C. (April 6, 2010). StarCraft II: Heaven's Devils. Simon & Schuster (Gallery Books). ISBN 978-1416-55084-6.
  3. McNeill, Graham (December 30, 2008). StarCraft: I, Mengsk. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-1-4165-5083-9.
  4. Neilson, Micky (December 18, 2000). StarCraft: Uprising. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 0-7434-1898-0 (eBook).
  5. 1999-10-22. Nukes Away. StarCraft Compendium Map Archive. Accessed 2009-04-10.
  6. 1999-08-13. Firestorm. StarCraft Compendium Map Archives. Accessed 2010-06-06
  7. Gerrold, David (w), Fernando Heinz Furukawa (p, i). StarCraft: Ghost Academy: Volume 3 (paperback binding). Tokyopop, March 8, 2011. ISBN 978-1427-81614-6.
  8. Zahn, Timothy (November 8, 2016). StarCraft: Evolution. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0425284735.
  9. Goldstein, Hilary. 2003-03-31. Starcraft: Ghost Details. IGN. Accessed 2007-09-01.
  10. BlizzCon 2005 StarCraft: Ghost information. Terran Infantry. Artist: Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed 2008-03-12.
  11. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Wings of Liberty, Breakout (in English). 2010-07-27.
  12. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Wings of Liberty, Ghost of a Chance (in English). 2010-07-27.
  13. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Wings of Liberty, Engine of Destruction (in English). 2010-07-27.
  14. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Wings of Liberty, Media Blitz (in English). 2010-07-27.
  15. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Nova Covert Ops, Enemy Intelligence (in English). 2016-03-29.
  16. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mission: Co-op Missions Mutator, World on Fire (in English). 2016-5-23.
  17. Blizzard Entertainment. Co-op Missions. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Nova Terra (in English). 2018.
  18. Blizzard Entertainment. Co-op Missions. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Mira Han and Matt Horner (in English). 2018.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Blizzard Entertainment. Co-op Missions. (Activision Blizzard). PC. Arcturus Mengsk (in English). 2019.
  20. Blizzard Entertainment. Heroes of the Storm (Blizzard Entertainment) (in English). June 2, 2015
  21. 2013-11-14, A MOBA by any Other Name. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2013-12-30
  22. 2014. Tychus. Heroes Nexus, accessed on 2014-06-01
  23. 2017-05-04, Behind the Scenes of StarCraft: Remastered. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2017-05-07
  24. MaXDaMaGeBG. 2010-02-22. Thor with Medivac. Take it! Youtube. Accessed 2011-08-26.
  25. 2021-07-25, Bob Fitch Twitter., accessed on 2021-07-25