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A peek on future american SLBMs and ICBMs

Orionblamblam

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sferrin said:
That works great when numbers aren't treaty limited. When they are, would you rather spend 6 warheads on a city or just one?
I'd rather enact the "we get to act like *you* guys" clause of the treaty. In other words "we chose not to count those extra 40,000 warheads we built. Surprise!!!" Alternatively, enact the "redefine terms as needed" clause. "No, we don't have an extra 40,000 warheads. Those are pulse units for our new 12,000 ton Orion ships."

In seriousness, I suspect that a treaty limited set of warheads would, at least for the US, be devoted far more towards taking out specific military targets than in wiping out population centers. That would be un-necessarily war-crimey. Instead, use those nukes to take out legitimate military and infrastructure targets. A side effect of that will be the complete collapse of agriculture and food transport, so the enemy cities will soon turn into callibalistic zombie apocalypse nightmares on their own.
 

bobbymike

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What worries me is that not only are the Sineva, Bulava, RS-24 and SS-18 replacement able to carry many more warheads than the treaty allows Russia has active nuclear weapons production lines while the US does not and has not built a new warhead for 20 years. My fear would be (assuming New Start is fully implemented) the US has 700 launchers with 1550 warhead and very few spare warheads while the Russians have 700 launchers able to carry thousands more warheads and have the spare weapons to mount in a break out of treaty manuveur.
 

stew3

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Isn't it semantics to a point here as to what we are 'building' -vs- 'rebuilding'? And we are doing it on a rather large scale, and redesigning still others like the W-76 to the W-76-1 more reliable designs? Don't we replace everything in that process old and in need of replacement, resulting in what would be a new condition warhead? And what good is a new design warhead if we (or the Russians) can't test it?
The US is suppose to have, at the moment anyway, a much larger 'break out' capability in strategic numbers. Trident 2 is capable of 14 warheads each, as is the MM3 able to upload to it's original 3 warheads. And the B-52 is capable of 20 cruise missiles, and we could also re-nuke the B-1 for low level delivery of B-61s and B-83s.
I am as cautious as as anyone, especially with the Russians, but we are not exactly inferior in the nuclear game, I think.
 

bobbymike

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Facets of Deterrence:

The United States needs to have a discussion about "what deterrence looks like when we get out to 2020, 2030," said Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, Joint Chiefs vice chairman. He told defense reporters last week in Washington, D.C., that the number of countries that the United States must deter from using nuclear weapons against it has grown "from one to more than one." The same type of force may not deter them all in the same manner, he said. "You may actually decide you're going to [keep] mutual assured destruction with one country," but that same approach may not similarly compel another against aggression, he said. There's also the issue of how to deter a non-state nuclear power, he said. Until the United States has done the "mental gymnastics" of figuring out a new deterrent scheme, Cartwright said he "wouldn't be in favor of building too much” in the way of replacement nuclear systems for the triad. He said he is "pleased" that this discussion has at least started.
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So we have recognized that we face an uncertain future facing possibly tens of nuclear threats yet we decide to negotiate an arms treaty with a single country that is no longer our enemy limited our future deterrence options.
 

sferrin

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stew3 said:
Isn't it semantics to a point here as to what we are 'building' -vs- 'rebuilding'?
No, as they're entirely different animals.
 

sferrin

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bobbymike

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Finding the Right Mix:

The United States has not yet determined what its ultimate nuclear force mixture will be once it fully implements the provisions of the New START agreement with Russia, said Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command, Tuesday during a speech in Washington, D.C. "There is a balance here between keeping the force operational and reconfiguring the operational force," said Kehler during a National Defense University Foundation-sponsored event on Capitol Hill. "We are working on the plans, but we have not made the final decisions." Under the terms of the treaty, the United States and Russia must each limit their strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, 700 deployed launchers, and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers within seven years of the agreement

ICBM Test Aborted Before Completion Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday destroyed a Minuteman 3 ICBM before it reached its intended target during a test flight, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, July 26).
Safety issues led the service to self-destruct the missile five minutes after its 3:01 a.m. takeoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Operators identified "a flight anomaly and terminated the flight for safety reasons," according to Col. Matthew Carroll, safety head for the 30th Space Wing.
"Established parameters were exceeded and controllers sent destruct commands," he added in a prepared statement. "When terminated, the vehicle was in the broad [Pacific Ocean] area northeast of Roi-Namur," not far from the Marshall Islands' Kwajalein Atoll. The missile, which was not armed, was intended to hit a test target on the atoll.
The military branch did not provide specifics of the safety issue. An investigation of the incident is planned, AP reported.
The Air Force routinely conducts trials of ICBMs minus actual warheads to collect information about missile performance and predictability.
Another Minuteman 3 reached the atoll as planned during a June 22 trial, though a communications glitch required the firing order to come from land-based operators rather than the intended air-based launch management system (Associated Press/Washington Post, July 27).

Lawmaker Opposes Further U.S. Nuke Reductions Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Tuesday warned against further reductions to the U.S. nuclear stockpile, the Dayton, Ohio, Daily News reported (see GSN, May 9).
The New START accord, which entered into force in February, requires Russia and the United States to each reduce their deployments of strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems. The Obama administration has also directed the Defense Department to lead a review on where further cuts might be possible.
The "narrative coming out of the White House would lead one to believe that the administration is rushing -- yet again -- towards more reductions," Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said during a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
“As I look at the world we live in -- where nuclear dangers from proliferation threats such as Iran and North Korea, the instability between India and Pakistan, and the sophistication of Russian and Chinese nuclear capabilities are all increasing -- it seems a misguided priority to focus on disarmament, and U.S. disarmament in particular, when the conditions that might permit it don’t exist,’’ the lawmaker added.
In a widely noted 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama voiced his desire for a world without nuclear weapons but said the United States would maintain its arsenal so long as such arms exist worldwide.
Turner called on the administration to carry through with its pledge to provide $85 billion over the coming 10 years for updates to the nation's nuclear weapons complex.
“I want to be clear: I am open to proposals to reduce our stockpile hedge,’’ Turner said, referring to backup U.S. warheads that could be made operational during a crisis or in the face of a renewed threat or a significant technical fault with deployed systems. “But the smart and sustainable way to do this is to modernize the nuclear stockpile, to replace our ‘decrepit’ infrastructure, and to renew our “atrophying” nuclear enterprise"
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In the last story someone's been reading my numerous and repetitive internet posts ;D
 

bobbymike

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Carnegie Endowment for Peace - Road to future arms control (note bolded text)

The next round of U.S.-Russia arms control presents some truly daunting challenges. Realistically, another arms reduction treaty is likely to be out of reach for the Obama administration, even if it wins a second term. Fortunately, there is much that it could do in the remainder of its first term—unilaterally, bilaterally, and multilaterally—to lay the groundwork for another treaty while reducing nuclear risks. To this end, the administration should:
  • Secure presidential involvement in the ongoing U.S. targeting review;
  • Publicly challenge Russia to engage on tactical nuclear weapons;
  • Design a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile to replace Minuteman III;
  • Identify a clear military goal for ballistic missile defense cooperation;
  • Prepare the domestic ground for counting all Conventional Prompt Global Strike systems as nuclear-armed in future arms control agreements;
  • Pursue non-binding confidence-building measures on conventional cruise missiles;
  • Restart reciprocal transparency visits to nuclear-weapon production complexes; and
  • Engage other nuclear-weapon states.
Further reductions can ultimately be achieved only if other states choose to play their parts. Yet, by putting constructive proposals on the table, the United States stands to gain whether or not international cooperation is forthcoming. If other states do engage, the United States will have succeeded in starting the long process toward a world with far fewer nuclear weapons; if they do not, it will be clear to the international community that the real barriers to progress in disarmament do not lie in Washington.---------------------------------------------------------------
When a peace think tank is saying we need a Minuteman III replacement :eek: of course my preference is a Peacekeeper+ sized missile that can double as a conventional prompt global strike system.
 

bobbymike

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Service Prepares For New Ballistic Missile Sustainment Construct
The Air Force is developing a new approach for sustaining its intercontinental ballistic missile fleet that combines the process used for the first 40 years of the ICBM's existence, which kept technical support in-house, with one used over the last decade, which depended on a single contractor to administer sustainment efforts.

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Is this a good change or a bad change?
 

Grey Havoc

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bobbymike said:
Is this a good change or a bad change?
It's a start, but they should move those functions fully back in-house, IMHO.
 

RanulfC

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bobbymike said:
When a peace think tank is saying we need a Minuteman III replacement :eek: of course my preference is a Peacekeeper+ sized missile that can double as a conventional prompt global strike system.
Well we can wish I suppose.... :)

Though, given the REASON "they" want single warhead is to preclude their use AS part of a "prompt global strike system" per:

  • Secure presidential involvement in the ongoing U.S. targeting review;
  • Publicly challenge Russia to engage on tactical nuclear weapons;
  • Design a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile to replace Minuteman III;
  • Identify a clear military goal for ballistic missile defense cooperation;
  • Prepare the domestic ground for counting all Conventional Prompt Global Strike systems as nuclear-armed in future arms control agreements;
  • Pursue non-binding confidence-building measures on conventional cruise missiles;
  • Restart reciprocal transparency visits to nuclear-weapon production complexes; and
  • Engage other nuclear-weapon states.
The other thing that bothers me is even though they suggest "non-binding confidence-building" measure(s) on conventional cruise missiles, what is meant is that WE cut back on or destroy some of OUR CALCMs in order to "show" everyone else how to do it... Which leaves US without the "option" to use them but lets everyone else keep theirs?

But then again, I'm one of the old-school "Orion" supporters who thinks that a million atom bombs on Earth ain't enough :)

Randy
 

bobbymike

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RanulfC said:
bobbymike said:
When a peace think tank is saying we need a Minuteman III replacement :eek: of course my preference is a Peacekeeper+ sized missile that can double as a conventional prompt global strike system.
Well we can wish I suppose.... :)

Though, given the REASON "they" want single warhead is to preclude their use AS part of a "prompt global strike system" per:

  • Secure presidential involvement in the ongoing U.S. targeting review;
  • Publicly challenge Russia to engage on tactical nuclear weapons;
  • Design a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile to replace Minuteman III;
  • Identify a clear military goal for ballistic missile defense cooperation;
  • Prepare the domestic ground for counting all Conventional Prompt Global Strike systems as nuclear-armed in future arms control agreements;
  • Pursue non-binding confidence-building measures on conventional cruise missiles;
  • Restart reciprocal transparency visits to nuclear-weapon production complexes; and
  • Engage other nuclear-weapon states.
The other thing that bothers me is even though they suggest "non-binding confidence-building" measure(s) on conventional cruise missiles, what is meant is that WE cut back on or destroy some of OUR CALCMs in order to "show" everyone else how to do it... Which leaves US without the "option" to use them but lets everyone else keep theirs?

But then again, I'm one of the old-school "Orion" supporters who thinks that a million atom bombs on Earth ain't enough :)

Randy
A fellow Cold Warrior, I would have built 3000 Minutemen and the heavy WS-120 ICBM or at least 300 Peacekeepers to match the number of SS-18s ;)
 

stew3

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I don't have the article, but supposedly the US has more upload capability at the moment. Trident 2 was designed with a potential of 14 warheads (4700 warheads plus total), MM3 three (1500), and each bomber can carry 20 plus bombs or cruise missiles (1800). On top of that the B-1B can be re-nuked, and we could also produce more cruise missiles or add a warhead to the JASSM. So if we had the weapons we could load them, but...
Now that doesn't mean Obama doesn't want to take that and any other potential advantage away from us (if it is in fact an advantage for us). Traitors do that.
 

stew3

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http://www.armscontrol.org/print/1121


This article is interesting. Biased towards the disarmament point of view, but has some interesting information in it.
 

sferrin

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stew3 said:
I don't have the article, but supposedly the US has more upload capability at the moment. Trident 2 was designed with a potential of 14 warheads (4700 warheads plus total), MM3 three (1500), and each bomber can carry 20 plus bombs or cruise missiles (1800). On top of that the B-1B can be re-nuked, and we could also produce more cruise missiles or add a warhead to the JASSM. So if we had the weapons we could load them, but...
Now that doesn't mean Obama doesn't want to take that and any other potential advantage away from us (if it is in fact an advantage for us). Traitors do that.
Have to have the warheads to be able to do it. IIRC all those little W80s have either been dismantled or are on the short list to be.
 

GeorgeA

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Tritium, brothers, tritium. You can have all the warheads you want but no trigger, no boom. Have we actually restarted tritium production yet?
 

bobbymike

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GeorgeA said:
Tritium, brothers, tritium. You can have all the warheads you want but no trigger, no boom. Have we actually restarted tritium production yet?
Tritium rods sent to Savannah River Site The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed that the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina has received it first shipment of nuclear rods containing tritium, a radioactive gas that is a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. The special Tritium Producing Burnable Absorber Rods (TPBARs) were irradiated in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s civilian Watts Bar reactor, thus demonstrating that commercial nuclear power reactors can be used as an integral part of a nuclear weapons program.
The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant resumed operation in October 2003 to produce tritium for weapons as well as electricity for homes and factories. (See PeaceMeal, Nov/Dec 2003) The dual-use operation transgresses more than half a century of strict separation of America’s commercial and military nuclear programs.
According to Tom Clements, an independent nuclear consultant, “This whole program sends out a dangerous signal internationally — that it’s acceptable to produce nuclear weapons materials in commercial reactors. At a time when concerns about proliferation of nuclear materials are rising, the U.S. should not be engaged in a program that affirms the nuclear weapons-nuclear power connection. While the U.S. wags a finger at Iran for the perceived risks of its nuclear power program, it is silently demonstrating that nuclear power programs do indeed present an obvious proliferation risk.”
The DOE anticipates extracting the tritium in July 2007, if the new Tritium Extraction Facility (TEF) at SRS becomes operational. The half-billion-dollar TEF is now undergoing start-up testing. Existing tritium facilities at SRS receive and recharge tritium canisters removed from nuclear warheads.
Tritium boosts the explosive power of fission weapons and is essential in thermonuclear weapons. It’s half- life of 12.5 years results in a need for periodic replenishment. However, with recycling of tritium from dismantled warheads, there is no need for new tritium production. The existing U.S. inventory of tritium can supply a stockpile of 1,000 nuclear warheads until 2040 and a smaller stockpile until the end of the 21st century.
 

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Updates Planned for U.S. Tritium Operations Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011 The United States intends to revamp operations at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina involving nuclear weapon-usable tritium, in part by installing up-to-date systems, tearing down unneeded structures and concentrating available equipment, the National Nuclear Security Administration said on Wednesday (see GSN, Oct. 8, 2010).
The effort, dubbed "Tritium Responsive Infrastructure Modifications," aims to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in projected expenses over the coming 20 years by reducing business costs and by streamlining and updating manufacturing activities, according to an NNSA press release (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release I, Aug. 3). The semiautonomous Energy Department agency specified no anticipated cost for the initiative itself, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Wednesday (Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel, Aug. 3).
“The TRIM plan cuts costs and reduces the number of facilities needed to process tritium while still ensuring that the nation’s stockpile is safe, secure and effective,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Don Cook said in the press release. “TRIM is a clear example of NNSA’s commitment to being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Modernizing our nuclear security enterprise is vital to implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”
The 5.5 percent annual breakdown of tritium, a hydrogen isotope critical in boosting the explosive power of U.S. nuclear weapons, means the material must be regularly harvested from available warheads as well as fuel rods used in Tennessee Valley Authority atomic reactors. Tritium vapor is cleansed of any contaminants in preparation for its application in weapons activities.
“Our tritium production mission plays a critically important role in our country’s efforts to maintain a nuclear deterrent,” Doug Dearolph, who heads the Savannah River Site Office, added in the statement. “However, at the same time, we have an obligation to every American citizen to ensure all our SRS operations are managed towards continuous improvement and cost efficiencies” (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release I).
Meanwhile, an NNSA supercomputer has started generating sophisticated three-dimensional weapon models to aid in evaluating the reliability of U.S. nuclear armaments without the use of test detonations (see GSN, March 9). The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California as well as the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico have tapped the Cielo system as part of the NNSA Capability Computing Campaign 2, the agency said.
“The body of work done on Cielo is one of the largest and most demanding workloads involving modeling and simulation within NNSA. Cielo is primarily utilized to perform milestone weapons calculations,” Cook said in a separate statement. “The research we’re able to do in computer science, physics, and engineering because of Cielo is a vital part of NNSA’s efforts to implement President Obama’s nuclear security agenda” (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release II, Aug. 3)
 

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Why do I get the feeling these plans are doomed to failure?

On a related note, I seem to remember that the US Cold War stockpile of Tritium was sold off, along with a lot of other strategic material stockpiles, during the Clinton Administration.
 

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Erin Sedlacek Heritage Foundation Defense and Aerospace


At the 2011 Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, one could sense increasing concerns from engineers and scientists who support and contribute to the U.S. defense industrial base. The U.S. defense industrial base put a man on the moon, allowed the country to win the Cold War, and developed numerous technologies Americans use in everyday life. The type of education and advanced skill sets these men and women possess are invaluable to national security and the U.S. economy. These resources, once lost, would be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to rebuild.
The defense industrial base is already being challenged, and budget cuts and advancing threats are only making things worse. Recently the House of Representatives voted on the Budget Control Act of 2011. In the first batch of cuts totaling nearly $1 trillion, the bill caps security spending in fiscal year 2012 at $684 billion and in FY 2013 at $686 billion.

Specifically, the U.S. solid rocket industrial base is already being jeopardized, in part by the lack of commitment to modernize the country’s strategic missile forces. This stems from a lack of clarity on future plans to develop nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons. For example, consider the average age of two types of missiles: A Minuteman III ICBM is 40 years, and the average age of a Trident II D–5 SLBM is 20 years. It is imperative for the U.S. to maintain effective strategic missile forces indefinitely.
 

sferrin

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Stuff like this is why I completely stopped following all military technology during the Clinton administration. I was just pissed all the time at the idiots in Washington actively destroying our ability to defend ourselves. :mad:
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
Stuff like this is why I completely stopped following all military technology during the Clinton administration. I was just pissed all the time at the idiots in Washington actively destroying our ability to defend ourselves. :mad:
Funny I did the exact same thing it was also the first time I let some of my defense magazine subscriptions lapse was tired of reading about cancellations especially strategic weapons and follow on systems. Of course the 90's are known as the decade of the "procurement holiday" I hope and pray that we are not going to see a repeat of that.
 

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Meanwhile while we disarm and possibly loose key strategic industries:


To me, though, the most provocative presentation delivered at our conference related not to the sea but to the future of China’s land-based nuclear arsenal. In March 2008, China’s state-run CCTV network broke the news about a 5,000-kilometre-long network of hardened tunnels built to house the Chinese Second Artillery Corps’s increasingly modern force of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Tunnelling evidently commenced in 1995. Located in, or rather under, mountainous districts of Hebei Province, in northern China, the facility is reportedly hundreds of meters deep. That makes it an exceptionally hard target against conventional or nuclear counterstrikes.China Defense Daily, a publication of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), confirmed the CCTV account in December 2009.


What should have been a blockbuster story occasioned barely a peep in the Western press, and elicited little response even in Asia. For lack of a catchier metaphor, call it the dragon that never roared. The most prominent outlet to report on what Chinese pundits dubbed the ‘underground Great Wall’ was Chosun Ilbo, in South Korea. The Washington-based Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief covered the story shortly afterward. That was basically it for original reporting. The story isn’t so much that Beijing has constructed hardened sites to safeguard its missile force. An invulnerable second-strike capability has been the gold standard of nuclear deterrence since the early Cold War. In theory, a military able to ride out an enemy first strike with a substantial portion of its missile force intact can deter such an attack. No sane adversary would launch a first strike if it knew its actions would summon forth a cataclysmic reply.


A more survivable nuclear deterrent, then, should bolster strategic stability between China and the United States. China has long contented itself with a ‘minimalist’ deterrent posture, fielding a small, rudimentary force of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The logic of minimalism—sound in my view—is that so long as even a single missile survives to retaliate against an enemy’s homeland, that adversary will desist from actions China deems unacceptable. Estimates of the total number of Chinese warheads even today, well into Beijing’s nuclear modernization effort, generally range from 150 to 400 devices. Even in this age of renewed US-Russian arms control, this remains a modest force. But minimal deterrence could employ a more robust force than the People’s Liberation Army fielded in past decades. ‘Minimal’ is a squishy term. Furthermore, Chinese officials and pundits have taken to debating adopting a ‘limited deterrent’ strategy. ‘Limited’ too remains hazily defined.



The very scale of the underground network opens up new vistas for Chinese nuclear strategy. The presenter at our conference reported piecing together various bits of data, and concluding that China may have constructed a far larger warhead inventory than most estimates hold. He projected an upper limit of 3,600 doomsday devices and delivery platforms, namely ballistic missiles of various types. The underground Great Wall could presumably accommodate such a force with ease. At a minimum, it presents Beijing new options. Think about it. The ‘New START’ accord inked by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last year limits US and Russian nuclear forces to 1,550 deployed warheads apiece. Because of the fudge factor often built into international treaties, notes the Federation of American Scientists, the actual numbers permitted under New START come to over 2,000 warheads for each side.



Even so, if the PLA has covertly departed from minimal deterrence—secreting hundreds of new weapons in the Hebei tunnel complex—then it could upend the strategic balance overnight, achieving parity or near-parity with the United States and Russia in deployed weaponry. I’m not sure how much of this to credit, and the presenter freely admitted that there was a significant guesswork quotient in his figures. But then there was a significant guesswork quotient to the long-running speculation surrounding the Chinese aircraft carrier project, a project of far smaller consequence than a clandestine Chinese nuclear build-up. At a minimum it would be worthwhile to inquire into the veracity of Chinese reporting on the underground Great Wall, and to ponder the implications if reports are accurate. Let the debate begin—at last.
James Holmes is an associate professor of strategy at the US Naval War College and co-author of Red Star over the Pacific. The views voiced here are his alone.
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bobbymike

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An Uncertain Future Failures, Expertise Loss Threaten U.S. ICBM Force By Mark Schneider
Published: 4 September 2011 In July, a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) failed in flight and was destroyed by U.S. Air Force controllers. However, this was not an isolated incident.
A backup launch system - the airborne command and control platform - reportedly also failed to launch a missile a month earlier. In October, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., lost the ability to communicate with 50 of its Minuteman IIIs for 45 minutes due to a "particular piece of communications hardware."
The Air Force played down the problem, saying that, in an emergency, the missiles could have been launched by backup systems. Press reports stated, "One military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the equipment in the launch control center has been the subject of unspecified communications problems in the past."
Most disturbing, these failures occurred under benign test conditions. Warnings have been issued in recent years about the possible loss of missile expertise and design skills. If this 40-year-old missile system is expected to serve at least another 20 years before replacement, the near-term challenge is to maintain this expertise while establishing long-term plans to develop a follow-on ICBM.
In July, Gen. Philip Breedlove, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, told the House Armed Services Committee that a significant portion of the existing infrastructure will eventually require modernization or replacement. Breedlove defended the Air Force budget, saying, "The Air Force budget request of $5.2 billion for nuclear deterrence operations demonstrates a commitment to sustaining the ICBM force through 2030 with investment including command and control, cryptographic improvements and ballistic missile fuse sustainment."
However, most of this money does not relate directly to sustaining the Minuteman missile.
In August, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the head of Strategic Command, stated, "Nuclear deterrence is and always will be our first priority," and that the U.S. would sequentially modernize its nuclear triad, with Minuteman coming last.
There are two fundamental tasks in retaining an ICBM force: Sustaining and extending the Minuteman's life until a replacement is fielded, and development of a follow-on ICBM. The concern is that we are losing the expertise necessary for both tasks.
In 2004, the Air Force ICBM project office concluded that by 2010, the U.S. would lose critical mass in guidance, propulsion and re-entry system expertise. In 2006, the Defense Science Board (DSB) noted, "With modest funding, the ICBM Program Office and the support industrial base [Northrop Grumman is prime contractor; Boeing, Lockheed Martin and ATK are subcontractors] have done an outstanding job in maintaining the availability, reliability, accuracy and survivability of the weapon system to the satisfaction of STRATCOM."
Yet the DSB also warned, "Design skills are rapidly disappearing, both for major redesign of current systems and for the design of new strategic systems."
In 2006, the DSB predicted that "a serious decline in ICBM design capability would occur within five [i.e., 2011] and, in sustainment efforts within 10 years [by 2016]." In 2006, the Defense Department Threat Reduction Advisory Committee pointed out that, "Industrial base skills … are in danger of significant further erosion in the areas of ballistic missiles." In 2008, the DSB noted, "Expertise that [in the past] provided designs for hardened and survivable launch control facilities, silos, communications, launch systems, re-entry systems, and offensive countermeasures is not now available."
The decline in expertise is evident. The remotoring of the Minuteman III ended in 2009. The Air Force has ended much of its research on solid rocket motors and the NASA Aries space booster was terminated. No new design work on a next-generation ICBM has been undertaken since the 1980s.
There also has been loss of expertise within the Air Force itself. The ICBM program office was downsized in 1997. In 2005, the service retired its only relatively modern ICBM, the Peacekeeper. Within the Air Force, the ICBM force has ceased to be a separate career field.
It has been suggested that the Air Force ICBM office emulate the Navy management system for ballistic missiles. This is unlikely to provide a quick or effective fix, as substantial differences exist between the two systems.
The Navy program office has operational responsibilities; the Air Force does not. The Navy benefits from continued production of the Trident II, a more modern missile than Minuteman, and can draw on a much larger skill base because of continued Navy development of new submarines, which also supports the attack submarine force. But the Air Force operates 1960s vintage silos and infrastructure, and its Minuteman III is based on 1950-1960 technology.
No Minuteman replacement program exists, pending a DoD study of possible options. The Air Force faces decisions related to the Minuteman III life-extension and a follow-on ICBM in a very restrictive budget situation.
In the short term, there is a critical need to maintain the limited ICBM design expertise that exists. What if a serious aging problem with Minuteman is discovered? No one involved in the original design is active in the program. No one in the Air Force project office has experience in managing the development of a new ICBM.
In the longer term, research-and-development activities on a follow-on ICBM must get underway promptly. Maintaining solid rocket motor production is necessary. If this does not happen, sustaining an effective, reliable ICBM force after 2030 will become illusory.
Mark Schneider, senior analyst, National Institute for Public Policy.
 

bobbymike

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U.S. Weighs Further Strategic Nuke Reductions Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011

A U.S. nuclear arsenal assessment now under way is intended to support a bid by President Obama to implement further reductions to the nation's strategic deterrent, the Washington Times on Wednesday quoted government insiders as saying (see GSN, Aug. 12).
“The administration has made up its mind that they want to go lower, and the only way to go lower is to change the military requirements for how many weapons are needed,” one informed U.S. government source said.
The forthcoming report has been described as a "mini-NPR," in reference to the administration's 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. The new assessment would examine potential additional reductions beyond those mandated in the New START treaty, prompting fears among some public-sector security specialists that U.S. nuclear weapons might eventually prove less useful in containing Russian and Chinese aggression (see GSN, May 9). Moscow and Beijing are updating their own arsenals.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller last month acknowledged the potential for further nuclear reductions, the Times reported (see GSN, Aug. 5). “The United States has made it clear that we are committed to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall number of nuclear weapons,” possibly by way of a U.S.-Russian deal addressing both sides' active-duty and reserve arsenals of strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons, she said then.
White House point man for arms control and nonproliferation Gary Samore in May confirmed the nuclear arsenal assessment was in progress.
“We’ll need to do a strategic review of what our force requirements are, and then, based on that, the president will have options available for additional reductions,” Samore told Arms Control Today. “That review is ongoing.”
The report's preparation has been drawn out because “we’ve reached the level in our forces where further reductions will raise questions about whether we retain the triad, or whether we go to a system that only is a dyad,” Samore said (see GSN, Dec. 16, 2009). The "nuclear triad" refers to the nation's land-, air- and sea-based nuclear deterrent; it is uncertain which leg of the deterrent, if any, might be considered for elimination in the forthcoming Pentagon review.
"Even unilateral" arsenal reductions could be an option if no deal on reductions is reached, he said (Bill Gertz, Washington Times, Sept. 21).--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Are you kidding me? There was no reason to reduce to even New Start levels let alone go further, it fact IMHO it would be dangerous.
 

sferrin

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The sooner this dip$hit is gone the better.
 

bobbymike

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Second day agenda at this year's Air Force Association Global Warfare Symposium:

Friday November 18th (do you need 45 minutes to say, "We aren't doing anything" :eek:
9:30 AM 10:15 AM ICBM Modernization
The presenter is Dr. Lauren Caston who is writing or has completed (he did not respond to my email) a RAND ICBM modernization study.
 

bobbymike

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A joint Navy-Air Force ballistic missile? By Philip Ewing Friday, October 21st, 2011 1:12 pm
Posted in Naval

Tomorrow’s lean defense budgets may force the military services to do something once unthinkable, the Navy’s top strategic weapons planner said Thursday: Cooperate on designing a new nuclear missile. Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, head of the Navy’s strategic systems programs, told attendees at the Naval Submarine League conference outside Washington that U.S. strategic forces eventually will need new nuclear ballistic missiles. The Navy and Air Force can sustain their current fleets of Tridents and Minutemen for the next few decades of the 21st century, but they won’t last forever.

He characterized the situation in the same way we heard Air Force Secretary Michael Donley broach a new Air Force One earlier this year: This isn’t a problem we need to resolve today, but given the amounts of time and money it takes for these things to pay off, the sooner DoD gets cracking, the better. So Benedict said he already has. “We’re not waiting around for aging to overtake us,” he said. For now, the Navy plans on a life-extension upgrade for its Trident D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. They’ll go to sea in around 2017, as the “Trident D-5 LE,” and meanwhile, he has already begun to talk to people inside the Building about a new, common ballistic missile. “I’m not waiting around to be told how to do my job. We currently have collaboration efforts with the Air Force,” Benedict said. He described how officials are looking at a common fuse for the Minuteman’s W78 warhead and the Trident’s W88; common guidance systems R&D, common propulsion R&D; electronic systems; ordnance; tooling and so on.


“I believe that some degree of commonality in parts between current and future missile systems is possible, and you can look at that from aspects of suppliers, land and ships systems, missile systems and components. They offer the greatest possibility for cost savings,” Benedict said. The defense budgets of Austerity America just will not support separate, parallel new missiles for the Air Force and Navy, Benedict said. That doesn’t mean that a new ICBM has to be identical to a new SLBM – in fact, there are compelling reasons not to use the same missiles, in case a failure or weakness in one means the entire U.S. strategic deterrent is compromised. Still, an overall joint effort is a compelling way to go, he argued, and soon. "This is not a decision we can postpone through 2020 or 2030 – this is a near-term decision that will affect sustainment and recapitalization,” Benedict said.


The two big milestones on the horizon are the Air Force’s plan to retire the Minutemen by around 2030 and the Navy’s plan to retire its D-5 LE missiles by around 2040. But having a new inter-service missile ready to take the watch by then could be a steep uphill climb: First, as defense analysts never tire of pointing out, much of the U.S. nuclear weapons industrial base is gone. It could be difficult and expensive to build new missiles and very difficult and very expensive to build new warheads. Second, not everyone in the national leadership is as enamored of nuclear weapons as strategic forces airmen and sailors.


Although the storyline at Sub League was etched in granite – Only A Kook is Afraid of a Nuke, to borrow a phrase from another time and place – how might it look to Americans and the world if Washington began building a new generation of nuclear weapons? President Obama broke a lot of china last year trying to get the Senate to ratify the New START treaty, and he and many other world leaders want to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. Inside the nuke family, however, that view is considered laughable. On Wednesday, former Strategic Command boss retired Adm. Rich Mies excoriated “Countdown to Zero” types, almost mocking abolitionists’ dream of a nuke-free world. Peace, he said? You like peace? What do you think has prevented a major global conflict since World War II? It ain’t the milk of human kindness – it’s the threat of massive retaliation. If the Nobel committee wants to give a prize to the people who’ve done the most for peace, it should award it to the troops of America’s strategic forces, Mies said. That is not a joke.


So the broken record is about to get stuck again: The U.S. needs to make a strategic decision soon about the future of its nuclear arsenal. Benedict was asked about the possibility of going to a nuclear dyad, and he said the White House and StratCom are reviewing all that right now, though OSD has been mostly kept out of it. Their findings could begin to inform decisions about the future of the U.S. nuclear posture.
 

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Panetta: Budget Sequester Could Force Elimination of ICBMs Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011

A looming automatic reduction in Defense Department spending could require the United States to eliminate its entire fleet of 450 ICBMs, prompting an unprecedented overhaul of the nation's nuclear strategy, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told lawmakers in a letter on Monday (see GSN, Nov. 8). The department is already planning to cut $450 billion in spending projected over the next decade (see GSN, Nov. 7). Under a law enacted in August, that amount might be more than doubled if a special congressional panel does not negotiate $1.2 trillion in additional government-wide cuts by Nov. 23, the Associated Press reported.


If triggered, the automatic sequestration would lower U.S. defense spending by 23 percent in 2013 and could result in the country's Minuteman 3 ICBMs being phased out, leaving aircraft and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as the country's only available means of carrying out a nuclear strike, Panetta warned. The Pentagon chief outlined the anticipated impact of the potential cuts in response to a request earlier in November by two Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We would have to formulate a new security strategy that accepted substantial risk of not meeting our defense needs. A sequestration budget is not one that I could recommend," Panetta stated in his reply to Senator John McCain (Ariz.), the committee's ranking member, and Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.).


Any move to terminate the ICBM leg of the triad could be expected to face resistance from Congress, particularly among lawmakers who represent the Western states where ICBMs are fielded: Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Eight U.S. senators last month wrote to Panetta to implore him to retain no fewer than 420 Minuteman 3 ICBMs as reductions are made under the U.S.-Russian New START agreement, which went into effect earlier this year (see GSN, Oct. 14). To achieve a new reductions mandate, most of the savings would come from what Panetta called "devastating" conventional weapons acquisition program terminations, personnel furloughs and cutbacks in military operations. However, each of the three legs of the nuclear triad would also be affected. A 20 percent automatic reduction in the Pentagon's budget, which would total $390 billion over 10 years, would "delay [the] next generation ballistic missile submarine" and "cut [the] force to 10 subs," actions that could result in a $7 billion savings, the defense secretary said. The development of a next-generation bomber -- currently planned for carrying both nuclear and conventional weapons -- would be terminated for now and restarted in the mid-2020s, offering an $18 billion savings (Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire).


The potential reduction would also put an end to the planned fielding of missile interceptors and detection systems around Europe as a hedge against a potential missile strike from Iran, Panetta said (see GSN, Nov. 14). The Pentagon chief's warning heightens pressure on the special congressional panel, which must reach agreement on any budget reduction package by next week, according to AP. President Obama has ruled out endorsing a potential bill to cancel the funding reductions made possible under the August law, though McCain and Graham have floated such a measure.


The potential spending reduction "would set off a swift decline of the United States as the world's leading military power," the two lawmakers said in released remarks. "This is not an outcome that we can live with, and it is certainly not one that we should impose on ourselves. The sequester is a threat to the national security interests of the United States, and it should not be allowed to occur" (Donna Cassata, Associated Press/Google News, Nov. 14).
=============================================
Speechless :eek:
 

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From an earlier MMIII replacement Future Land Based Strategic Deterrent Mission Needs Statement:

http://www.wslfweb.org/docs/lbsd/concepts%20to%20alternatives%20(chapter%204)%201dec03.pdf
 

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The Case for Sticking with the Minuteman: The Air Staff recently asked RAND to look at what the Air Force could do with the current ICBM force of Minuteman III missiles after 2030, said Chad Ohlandt, an associate engineer with RAND. What the research organization found was that the incremental modernization of the Minuteman force is a reasonably smart idea, Ohlandt told attendees at AFA's Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles last week. He said RAND concluded that silos likely will continue to be the most cost-effective basing option—as opposed to mobile basing—since any nation-state adversary would have to expend most of its nuclear arsenal to attack the current-sized Minuteman force. Further, silos are more affordable and more survivable than they were in the Cold War, noted Ohlandt, making incremental modernization and sustainment of this enterprise "relatively inexpensive" and an option that the Air Force should seriously consider. The Air Force already has modernized parts of the Minuteman force. Upgrading it further between Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2050 would cost approximately $2 billion a year, compared to about $2.8 billion annually for a new missile fleet, estimated Ohlandt. 2030 is the projected date when the Air Force might retire the Minuteman IIIs.
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So to replace MMIII with a new missile would cost only $800 million more/year? Seems like this is cheap way to exercise ICBM design skills including all subsystems and insure a modern robust land based deterrent incorporating the latest technologies.
 

sferrin

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Yeah but that would make sense, and god knows we can't have that.
 

bmdefiant

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sferrin said:
Yeah but that would make sense, and god knows we can't have that.
Exactly..in my mind the increase is a small price to pay for developing the structure for future ICBM development as it seems that all potential rivals are now pushing ahead with their future missile development..
It seems the US is getting left behind while all other ICBM nations are well on the way to their missile developments for the next few decades..
 

sferrin

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bmdefiant said:
It seems the US is getting left behind while all other ICBM nations are well on the way to their missile developments for the next few decades..
No "seems" about it. It won't be too long before anybody who's actually designed ICBMs in the US will be retired. Then we'll be up S--t Creek without a paddle.
 

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The faster silo based ICBMs die, the better for us all, because building silos capable of withstanding increasingly precise nuclear strikes is inordnately expensive; and even with semi precise nuclear strikes; you're still going to get hundreds of groundbursts at a minimum to dig out the silos; which is kind of bad for the rest of the nation in the days following an exchange...
 

Kadija_Man

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RyanCrierie said:
The faster silo based ICBMs die, the better for us all, because building silos capable of withstanding increasingly precise nuclear strikes is inordnately expensive; and even with semi precise nuclear strikes; you're still going to get hundreds of groundbursts at a minimum to dig out the silos; which is kind of bad for the rest of the nation in the days following an exchange...
Those were criticisms levelled at the concept when the British first developed it way back in the late 1950s-early 1960s. What is remarkable is how persistent the concept has proven, despite all its flaws.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
The faster silo based ICBMs die, the better for us all, because building silos capable of withstanding increasingly precise nuclear strikes is inordnately expensive; and even with semi precise nuclear strikes; you're still going to get hundreds of groundbursts at a minimum to dig out the silos; which is kind of bad for the rest of the nation in the days following an exchange...
I'd argue that silo-based ICBMs are the MOST survivable and cost effictive. Doesn't even matter than you can dig one out with a direct hit. Why? Because you've got hundreds of hardpoints to hit before they can launch, and with early warning getting better all the time (if they don't have the ability to actually image enemy launches early in flight I'd be astonished) the likelihood of knocking out 450 hardpoints in the space of literally seconds, before they've been able to launch, is practically zero. On the other hand, 7 torpedos could knock out the entire deployed Trident force at a stroke.
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
RyanCrierie said:
The faster silo based ICBMs die, the better for us all, because building silos capable of withstanding increasingly precise nuclear strikes is inordnately expensive; and even with semi precise nuclear strikes; you're still going to get hundreds of groundbursts at a minimum to dig out the silos; which is kind of bad for the rest of the nation in the days following an exchange...
I'd argue that silo-based ICBMs are the MOST survivable and cost effictive. Doesn't even matter than you can dig one out with a direct hit. Why? Because you've got hundreds of hardpoints to hit before they can launch, and with early warning getting better all the time (if they don't have the ability to actually image enemy launches early in flight I'd be astonished) the likelihood of knocking out 450 hardpoints in the space of literally seconds, before they've been able to launch, is practically zero. On the other hand, 7 torpedos could knock out the entire deployed Trident force at a stroke.
The "whither on the vine" strategy of disarmament continues

The commanders of two numbered air forces in charge of nuclear operations are concerned about pockets of inexperience among personnel across the enterprise, and New START treaty weapons reductions could have a particularly detrimental effect on the intercontinental ballistic missile force structure depending on how they are implemented.
 

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bobbymike said:
U.S. Weighs Further Strategic Nuke Reductions Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 ... "Even unilateral" arsenal reductions could be an option if no deal on reductions is reached, he said (Bill Gertz, Washington Times, Sept. 21).--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Are you kidding me? There was no reason to reduce to even New Start levels let alone go further, it fact IMHO it would be dangerous.

This is down right reckless. At some point "minimum deterrence" will not deter, or a usable weakness will be found, and we will be toast. Or toasted. Ironic how those morons so afraid of nuclear weapons just might create the situation where we find them used on us.
 
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