Plans for Low-Yield Sea-Launched Nukes Moving Forward

 In China, GDI, Russia, Land, Defense, Sea, Air, Threats

JUST IN: Plans for Low-Yield Sea-Launched Nukes Moving Forward

USS Maryland, a Ohio-class bal­lis­tic-mis­sile sub­ma­rine

Photo: Navy

Plans to acquire sea-launched cruise mis­siles and sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­siles armed with low-yield nuclear weapons are mov­ing for­ward, said the under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy Dec. 4.

The con­tro­ver­sial weapons — which many Democrats oppose — were called for in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review that was released in February 2018.

As part of the review, the admin­is­tra­tion said there needs to be an increased focus on refur­bish­ing the nation’s nuclear tri­ad, which is made up of land-based inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles, long-range bombers and bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­marines.

In addi­tion, there is also a need for sup­ple­men­tary capa­bil­i­ties, said John Rood dur­ing a break­fast meet­ing with reporters in Washington, D.C. These include sea-launched cruise mis­siles and sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­siles both armed with low-yield nuclear weapons.

The bal­lis­tic mis­sile effort — which uti­lizes an exist­ing sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile, the D5, and would fea­ture an exist­ing war­head that is mod­i­fied to be low-yield — is “going well,” he not­ed.

As for “the sub­ma­rine-launched cruise mis­sile, we are not as advanced in the devel­op­ment of that,” Rood said. “That’s still going through an analy­sis of alter­na­tives and oth­er work.”

The United States has had low-yield nuclear weapons in its arse­nal for decades, but those sys­tems have been air-deliv­ered, he not­ed.

However, based on threats from great pow­er com­peti­tors such as Russia and China, there is a need for more deliv­ery options, Rood said.

The United States and coun­tries like Russia and China have been mov­ing in oppo­site direc­tions, he said. “The United States [has been] reduc­ing our reliance on nuclear weapons, reduc­ing the size of our nuclear stock­pile.”

At the same time, both Moscow and Beijing have been increas­ing their reliance on nuclear weapons, the num­ber of sys­tems, and the types of weapons and deliv­ery vehi­cles as well, he added.

“The whole point of hav­ing a robust, capa­ble nuclear arse­nal is to deter behav­ior by oth­ers and aggres­sive action,” Rood said. “In order to restore deter­rence where we thought it might be becom­ing weak­er than we like, we have asked for these sup­ple­men­tary capa­bil­i­ties in order to send a sig­nal that we have a vari­ety of means that are more sur­viv­able than the exist­ing low-yield nuclear weapons aboard air­craft,” he said.

That would result in an abil­i­ty across the spec­trum of poten­tial con­flict to deter and, if nec­es­sary, respond to nuclear use against the United States or its allies, he added.

Critics of the weapons have said that the sys­tems are too expen­sive, but Rood quot­ed formed Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who said, “the nation can afford sur­vival.”

“Nuclear deter­rence is crit­i­cal to our future and being able to defend against and deter poten­tial adver­saries,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rood also dis­cussed Turkey’s removal from the F‑35 joint strike fight­er pro­gram, not­ing that there is a path for­ward for its re-entrance should Ankara for­go the Russian-made S‑400 sur­face-to-air mis­sile defense sys­tem, which it received over the sum­mer.

“We’ve been very clear about our con­cerns about Turkey con­tin­u­ing to pro­ceed with the S‑400 inte­gra­tion in their forces,” he said. “Of course, these are sov­er­eign deci­sions and we respect the abil­i­ty of the Turkish gov­ern­ment to make sov­er­eign deci­sions about its future. Nonetheless, those sov­er­eign deci­sions have con­se­quences and we are very con­cerned about the con­tin­ued pur­suit of that.”

There have been many con­ver­sa­tions between President Donald Trump, mem­bers of Congress and senior NATO lead­ers with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he not­ed.

“We haven’t giv­en up on the issue and it’s some­thing that we remain engaged with the Turks, with the aim of per­suad­ing them to pur­sue anoth­er path,” he said.

“There’s an old proverb, ‘No mat­ter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, it’s nev­er too late to turn back.’” To that end, the United States is con­tin­u­ing to work with Ankara in hopes of a pos­i­tive out­come, he said.

Topics: Bomb and Warhead

Source: NDIA

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