A nuclear warhead is a powerful weapon which derives its destructive power from nuclear reactions, and with a Naquadah enhancement the explosive force can be greatly increased or Naquadria enhancement which is even more destructive.
Nukes however are only effective against vessels or structures which do not have sufficiently powerful shield. The shielding technology of the Ori, Lanteans or Asurans is impervious to them. The shields of a Goa'uld ha'tak were shown to be impervious to the early Tau'ri nukes even when enhanced with naquadah. Wraith ships tend to be immune to them too as the Wraith Darts tend to destroy them before impact. Any that hit can cause serious damage, but nothing crippling enough to destroy or seriously impact the function of the ship. Detonating a nuke on the inside works however and some ships have managed to beam the warheads onboard or snuck one on through other means.
Nuclear weapons are the most powerful type of offensive weapon which are natively available to the Tau'ri.
History and uses
Colonel Jack O'Neill attempted to destroy the Abydos Stargate with a nuclear warhead, but Ra took the weapon and prepared to send it back through the Stargate to Earth with a shipment of a special mineral, Naquadah, to increase its power a hundredfold and destroy Earth. However, O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson used the Transportation rings on Ra's ship to send the bomb aboard while it was in orbit above the planet. The explosion destroyed the ship and killed Ra. (Stargate)
When Major General George S. Hammond discovered the Abydos Stargate was still standing, he planned to send another, more powerful, bomb through, but Jack O'Neill persuaded him otherwise. (SG1: "Children of the Gods")
During a Goa'uld attack on Earth, two nuclear missiles each enhanced with naquadah and possessing a yield of over one thousand megatons were launched against the two invading ships. Neither nuke had any affect.
After Hammond was forced to retire in 2000, his replacement Major General Henry Bauer ordered Major Samantha Carter to build and test a nuclear bomb that utilized Naquadah as its fissionable material. When the device was detonated on a test planet, the results were disastrous, and nearly result in the loss of Stargate Command. However, it should be noted that this planet had deposits of Naquadah just below the surface, and that this would have significantly increased the yield. Earth was bombarded with radiation through the Stargate which the iris held back long enough for the thirty-eight minute window to pass and the Stargate to shut down on its own. (SG1: "Chain Reaction")
During Anubis' invasion of Earth, his forces dialed Earth's stargate. Moments later, something impacted the iris with enough force to rock the SGC. It was suspected that Anubis had just attempted to send a nuke through.
The Daedalus has used nuclear warheads and Asgard transporters to destroy Wraith Hive ships, but their success has been limited since the Wraith developed jamming codes. Before this happened, the ship destroyed three Hive ships in this manner and the Odyssey later destroyed another ship in this manner. They also have been used to fake a self-destruct of Atlantis. During the Battle of P3Y-229, the Odyssey and Korolev tried this method to try to destroy four Ori warships, but failed. (SGA: "The Siege, Part 3", "Hermiod's Last Mission") (SG1: "Flesh and Blood")
During an alternate timeline, Qetesh plotted to use Earth's early atomic weapons to kill Ra and take over the Goa'uld Empire for herself. Qetesh then planned to use the atomic bombs to kill anyone who opposed her rule. When SG-1 arrived in the alternate 1947 in the Time Jumper and rescued An, he helped them defeat the attack on Earth by beaming Little Boy type atomic bombs into Ra and Qetesh's ships, killing them. (SG1: "Roswell")
Another successful tactic has been piloting ships armed with nuclear warheads into Hive ships and detonating them from the inside. Lt. Colonel John Sheppard used this tactic to destroy a Hive ship during the siege of Atlantis and later used it to destroy the Super-hive. Both times the tactics worked, and besides the few times beaming warheads onto a Hive ship has worked, has proven to be the only way that nuclear warheads will work on a Hive ship. (SGA: "The Siege, Part 3", "Enemy at the Gate")
Nuclear warheads are controversial on Earth because of their destructive power. Dr. Elizabeth Weir began her career by campaigning against the proliferation of these and other weapons. Dr. Radek Zelenka may share this view as well, as he says the creation of nuclear warheads was not science's proudest moment. (SG1: "Lost City, Part 1") (SGA: "The Gift")
When Ladon Radim planned his coup, he knew he needed to eliminate Cowen and his elite personal guard in order to succeed so he laid a trap using the Atlantis expedition and the chance to get Puddle Jumpers to get them in one place on M6R-867 where he planted a nuclear bomb that he, as the chief scientist, had made. He initially planned to let the expedition members die in the explosion, but after learning that the people he'd sent to Atlantis which included his sister could be saved, he changed his mind and freed the team. The nuclear warhead went off killing Cowen and his personal guard. (SGA: "Coup D'etat")
The SGC has also developed developed multi-gigaton nuclear warheads nicknamed 'gate busters'.
During the Battle of the Super-hive, Sheppard had several F-302 fighter-interceptors equipped with nuclear warheads in an effort to launch a first strike and destroy the Hive ship. The attempt had to be aborted when the Hive launched Wraith Darts to take out Area 51 and all but Sheppard's 302 were destroyed. Sheppard planned to use his bomb to complete the mission by blasting his way into the Hive's Dart Bay, landing and detonating the warhead in the interior of the Hive ship. Sheppard successfully got in and prepared to detonate his nuke, but before he could he was stopped by Dr. Rodney McKay, who rigged a remote detonator so they could escape first. As they exited through the Hive ship's Stargate, Sheppard detonated the warhead, destroying the super-hive and saving Earth from a culling. (SGA: "Enemy at the Gate")
- In an alternate reality visited by Daniel Jackson in 1998, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill was part of the original team to travel through the Stargate to Abydos in 1996 with the intention of detonating a nuclear warhead. Although Ra was killed during the Abydos Mission, it is unclear if the warhead was detonated aboard his mothership as occurred in our reality. Two years later, O'Neill wiped out the population of Chulak with a nuclear warhead in the hope of halting the attack on Earth. Teal'c's wife Drey'auc and son Rya'c were among the casualties. Teal'c later personally lead the invasion of the SGA and eventually killed Jack in revenge for the deaths of his family. (SG1: "There But for the Grace of God")