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Re- Modern U.S. ICBM's ???

Pioneer

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G’day gents

Excuse my ignorance, but I can’t help being concerned about what can only be classed as the United States neglect of its land-based ICBM force.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an American patriot or a right-wing freak or anything. In fact I’m one of those people who’d be happy to see such weapons eliminated full stop. But the fact is whilst the U.S. has been running around the world as the ‘supposed’ only unchallengeable super power, and fighting its ideological ‘War on Terror’, the rest of the world seems to have proliferated in the way of MRBM and ICBM development and operational deployment.
I’m both amazed and shocked that the U.S. is seriously contemplating…studying and deliberating into extending the lives of their LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM into the region of 2030 (I read somewhere ??). Now that’s a long time, when one considers that the Minuteman III program started in 1966! Much has changed in the way of strategic missiles, as well as their vulnerability to modern state-of-the-art Russian ICBM’s.

Could someone please explain why the United States/Pentagon/USAF could simply not reintroduce/ revamped ICBM programs like the LGM-118A Peacekeeper and MGM-134A Midgetman (Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (SICBM)) ICBM’s. After all in the case of the LGM-118A Peacekeeper, it had been operationally deployed in relative small numbers, alas for all but a few years, before it was crazily withdrawn from service (America has a habit of this). Whilst the MGM-134A Midgetman had much of its R&D paid and completed, with a prototype being readied in 1991 (I think ??)

Surly both missiles could have modern state-of-the-art technologies incorporated to bring them up to speed and proficiency far quicker than developing an all new missile(s) design! Even a reduction in the amount of MIRV’s carried (say six instead of the original ten) by the LGM-118A Peacekeeper to make it lighter and cheaper
Naturally, I would think that these would/should be either road or railway mobile for their own survivability and detente value.

Is my analogy daft and ignorant?

I’d greatly appreciate your input!

Regards
Pioneer
 

sferrin

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The newest US ICBM in service rolled off the line in 1977. The oldest Russian ICBM is about a decade newer than that. The last ICBM the US produced rolled off the line in 1988. You can be sure that if and when we ever design another one we're going to run into big problems simply because the institutional expertise is gone. We'll flight test a couple, have problems, and then they'll cancel the "troubled" and "controversial" program.
 

bobbymike

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As someone who supports a full Triad modernization and has decried the cancellation of modernization programs since around 1992 (many programs were cancelled in 1989-91) the US's inability to support a new state of the art ICBM program after MMIII is troubling.

I hope this makes me a defense pragmatist and not a "right wing freak" as so eloquently put. When LA Times writes a few months ago saying we need new warheads I think 'right wing' has left the building. And while any newspaper that enhances the visibility of the issue is welcomed it also shows that times are indeed desperate in the 'nuclear enterprise'.

As for modernization, nukes and their delivery vehicles obviously became the easiest programs to kick down the road at the end of the Cold war. Many Congressional proponents simple faded away (retired) while those remaining were voices in the wilderness at best or declared outright 'kooks' at worst for supporting such 'antiquated' ideas as 'robust deterrent' when Russia and the US were skipping down history's road singing Kumbaya.

At a time of massive disarmament - the US went from 13,000 deployed strategic warheads to around 1600 today - asking for additional funds for new systems was an impossible sell to Congress or the American people. GW Bush had several modest proposals (RRW, ACI, RNEP, the Land Based Strategic Deterrent to replace MMIII in 2018) voted down with help from members of his own party. GWB wanted something like $20M for ACI (Advanced [warhead] Concept Initiative) that not only was defunded but Congress added language to DENY the nuclear labs from doing ANY work on next generation warhead designs. That language IS STILL in the FY16 DOD budget documents.

Fast forward to today and we find the need to modernize our ICBMs when SSBN(X) is starting (with a lot of support from Congress, you rarely hear anyone utter the acronym ICBM) as well as LSR-B about to be a full program of record with initial contract award. Our old warheads are undergoing extensive LEPs at this time as well. The bomber and SSBN(X) have more vocal support in Congress while as for ICBMs, specifically, I am more optimistic than sferrin in the US's ability to build a new ICBM, I just think it will once again get pushed aside in a budget fight.

Also, the US also has (and has had since 1960 at least) a very large, organized arms control 'community' that screams from every rooftop the moment ANY type of modernization is proposed. China and Russia don't face this internal problem and basically never have. The Sakharov's of the former USSR aside (he was persecuted in the USSR which tends to get noticed by others who might have spoken up) there is little or no opposition to nuclear programs inside either nation.
 

Pioneer

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Very interesting and appreciated thoughts gents - thanks!!
So can I ask your views as to whether you think a revitalised LGM-118A Peacekeeper and MGM-134A Midgetman is feasible??


Regards
Pioneer
 

bobbymike

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Pioneer said:
Very interesting and appreciated thoughts gents - thanks!!
So can I ask your views as to whether you think a revitalised LGM-118A Peacekeeper and MGM-134A Midgetman is feasible??


Regards
Pioneer
I have to admit I am completely in the dark as to what might come out of the AoA for the GBSD program. I've tried to follow every possible ICBM development such as solid rockets for strategic strike. Both ATK and Aerojet have tested upgraded large class solid booster (92" diameter Peacekeeper class) under the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Performance Technology program which may mean something or nothing unfortunately.

I am hoping for a larger then MMIII missile with a larger payload as a hedge against future strategic instability. If you are going, ultimately, down to 400 ICBMs I just feel an upload capability is a good insurance policy against a future surprise like a Russian or Chinese nuclear 'breakout'. We keep hearing about 3000km of tunnels owned by the Chinese 2nd Artillery Corps (nukes) and have no idea what is going on with the nuclear programs.
 

sferrin

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bobbymike said:
Pioneer said:
Very interesting and appreciated thoughts gents - thanks!!
So can I ask your views as to whether you think a revitalised LGM-118A Peacekeeper and MGM-134A Midgetman is feasible??


Regards
Pioneer
I have to admit I am completely in the dark as to what might come out of the AoA for the GBSD program. I've tried to follow every possible ICBM development such as solid rockets for strategic strike. Both ATK and Aerojet have tested upgraded large class solid booster (92" diameter Peacekeeper class) under the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Performance Technology program which may mean something or nothing unfortunately.

I am hoping for a larger then MMIII missile with a larger payload as a hedge against future strategic instability. If you are going, ultimately, down to 400 ICBMs I just feel an upload capability is a good insurance policy against a future surprise like a Russian or Chinese nuclear 'breakout'. We keep hearing about 3000km of tunnels owned by the Chinese 2nd Artillery Corps (nukes) and have no idea what is going on with the nuclear programs.
Not to mention, if we want PGS (and we're stupid enough to allow them to be counted against our nuclear numbers) we'll want a bigger booster simply because BGVs are less space/weight efficient than your typical conical RV. As for the Chinese tunnels, sounds like they took a lesson from the MX shell game. (Only one-upped it by keeping the entire thing underground.)
 

bobbymike

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http://warontherocks.com/2015/06/5-questions-with-rep-randy-forbes-on-subs-and-nukes/

As an example. I know the questions seem to be specific about the SSBN(X) but IMHO the entire Triad is of strategic importance and should be funded from a national account of NEW money not existing appropriations. Also, politicians who support one leg should always mention the importance of the entirety of the delivery systems and the nuclear enterprise every chance they get.
 

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Why the need for a "triad", apart from pandering to the egos of certain US Generals/Admirals/Politicians?

Why not simply develop SLBMs alone? They are impossible to find and difficult to attack. All they have to do is cruise under the ocean's surface safe and secure. Land based ICBMs can be easily targeted, as can bombers. Bombers also need large bases which need to be secured. ICBMs less so.
 

Pioneer

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Hot Breath said:
Why the need for a "triad", apart from pandering to the egos of certain US Generals/Admirals/Politicians?

Why not simply develop SLBMs alone? They are impossible to find and difficult to attack. All they have to do is cruise under the ocean's surface safe and secure. Land based ICBMs can be easily targeted, as can bombers. Bombers also need large bases which need to be secured. ICBMs less so.
I hear you my friend!
I must admit, I somewhat surprised that the Tri-services (USAF, USN and US Army) haven't been encouraged/forced to consider a 'Joint Ballistic Missile program' - something reminiscent of other 'Joint weapons/platform programs'. I know it might seem a little absurd, but think about it.....some in the past have spoken about adopting a land-based UGM-133A Trident D5. Maybe with a couple less warheads to give it a lighter weight...longer legs...
With the Navy pushing for its SSBN(X) would it makes sense to possibly design such a new multi-service SSBM/ICBM? Naturally you'd design it first and foremost for SSBN's, with it being the basis for adapted for land-based/land-mobile ICBM.

Just a thought :eek:

But then again, if anyone was going to enforce such a 'Joint Ballistic Missile program', I guess it would have been one Robert McNamara ;)

Regards
Pioneer
 

sferrin

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Pioneer said:
Hot Breath said:
Why the need for a "triad", apart from pandering to the egos of certain US Generals/Admirals/Politicians?

Why not simply develop SLBMs alone? They are impossible to find and difficult to attack. All they have to do is cruise under the ocean's surface safe and secure. Land based ICBMs can be easily targeted, as can bombers. Bombers also need large bases which need to be secured. ICBMs less so.
I hear you my friend!
I must admit, I somewhat surprised that the Tri-services (USAF, USN and US Army) haven't been encouraged/forced to consider a 'Joint Ballistic Missile program' - something reminiscent of other 'Joint weapons/platform programs'. I know it might seem a little absurd, but think about it.....some in the past have spoken about adopting a land-based UGM-133A Trident D5. Maybe with a couple less warheads to give it a lighter weight...longer legs...
With the Navy pushing for its SSBN(X) would it makes sense to possibly design such a new multi-service SSBM/ICBM? Naturally you'd design it first and foremost for SSBN's, with it being the basis for adapted for land-based/land-mobile ICBM.

Just a thought :eek:

But then again, if anyone was going to enforce such a 'Joint Ballistic Missile program', I guess it would have been one Robert McNamara ;)

Regards
Pioneer
Except that's not what he's suggesting. He's under the mistaken impression that a triad is a waste of money and that SSBNs alone would be just as effective. Books could be written on how many ways this notion falls on it's face.

As for using the same missile for sea and land basing it would be unnecessarily expensive. Different requirements. Now using the same MOTORs might be plausible - except nobody is planning on building a 92" dia. SLBM.

We'll probably be doing everybody a favor if we don't let this get derailed onto politics/policy once again. The topic is about "Modern U.S. ICBMs".
 

fredymac

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SSBN's are great unless something totally unexpected and bizarre happens like finally coming up with a way to spot and track submarines. Before John Walker ruined it all, US SSN's were trailing Russian SSBN's with enough consistency that they changed their deployment strategy. There is enough worldwide research in ASW that it would be risky to assume someone won't finally develop an effective system.


The basic principle is not having all your eggs in one basket.


For bombers, there is the added advantage of being useful for other purposes.
 

sferrin

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Dude, you're just feeding it.
 

carsinamerica

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I'm all for avoiding a one-basket solution, but two baskets are plenty. At the start, I want to stipulate that we should invest in:

1. A modernization of the SSBN force,
2. Development of new-generation bombers, be they manned or not, and
3. Replacement and refurbishment of our strategic warheads, as needed

I say this first, because I know that some people tend to look at any criticism of the nuclear force as peacenik naivete. I would like to see reductions in the nuclear forces of all major powers, but that days is clearly more distant given Russia's aggressive posture. At any rate, the submarine platform in particular is old and in need of replacement. Using bombers as a hedge against some future giant leap in ASW capability is also warranted.

However, it's time to ditch the land-based leg of the triad. Sferrin is correct that books have been written about over-reliance on submarines, but books have also been written about the destabilizing effect of ICBMs. The key arguments for land-based missiles are traditionally that they are:
* Kept in a high state of readiness
* Easy to maintain
* Cheap
* Capable of higher throw-weight
* More accurate

These arguments date all the way back to the 1960s, when we were developing a multi-platform strategic force. However, the Trident force has delivered greater on-station performance than Polaris/Poseidon. It's a superb weapon system, despite a few early teething troubles. As for the cost, ICBMs are cheaper in some ways, but engineering a new one will be expensive, and the downsides are costs, too. As for the military capabilities, we don't need maximum throw-weight at the moment, thanks to current arms-control agreements. We don't deploy multiple-warhead ICBMs at the moment. We also don't face a particularly robust ABM capacity in our potential adversaries. Therefore, the UGM-133 has the necessary throw-weight to accomplish needed tasks (and has space for plenty of warheads, if we needed to increase our arsenal). As for accuracy, the D-5 is -- by all accounts -- a fantastically accurate weapon, with CMP enough to carry out a first-strike role if needed.

Beyond that, the ICBM is dangerous. In any serious crisis, they are the most vulnerable leg of the triad, and the pressure to "use them or lose them" could become extreme. It also gives us the option to ride out a reported attack without resorting to launch-on-warning, which, protestations aside, should be assumed to be the default U.S. strategic posture. We have hitherto been lucky in this regard, but it's unwise to bet everything that our luck will hold and that we won't face crises that make us think the ICBM force is about to face destruction.

I'm not trying to start a war in this thread, and I know that my view is a minority one on this forum. Still, it's worth acknowledging that reasonable people can disagree on this issue.
 

sferrin

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carsinamerica said:
However, it's time to ditch the land-based leg of the triad. Sferrin is correct that books have been written about over-reliance on submarines, but books have also been written about the destabilizing effect of ICBMs. The key arguments for land-based missiles are traditionally that they are:
* Kept in a high state of readiness
* Easy to maintain
* Cheap
* Capable of higher throw-weight
* More accurate

These arguments date all the way back to the 1960s, when we were developing a multi-platform strategic force. However, the Trident force has delivered greater on-station performance than Polaris/Poseidon. It's a superb weapon system, despite a few early teething troubles. As for the cost, ICBMs are cheaper in some ways, but engineering a new one will be expensive, and the downsides are costs, too. As for the military capabilities, we don't need maximum throw-weight at the moment, thanks to current arms-control agreements. We don't deploy multiple-warhead ICBMs at the moment. We also don't face a particularly robust ABM capacity in our potential adversaries. Therefore, the UGM-133 has the necessary throw-weight to accomplish needed tasks (and has space for plenty of warheads, if we needed to increase our arsenal). As for accuracy, the D-5 is -- by all accounts -- a fantastically accurate weapon, with CMP enough to carry out a first-strike role if needed.

Beyond that, the ICBM is dangerous. In any serious crisis, they are the most vulnerable leg of the triad, and the pressure to "use them or lose them" could become extreme. It also gives us the option to ride out a reported attack without resorting to launch-on-warning, which, protestations aside, should be assumed to be the default U.S. strategic posture. We have hitherto been lucky in this regard, but it's unwise to bet everything that our luck will hold and that we won't face crises that make us think the ICBM force is about to face destruction.

I'm not trying to start a war in this thread, and I know that my view is a minority one on this forum. Still, it's worth acknowledging that reasonable people can disagree on this issue.
Taking out the SSBN force would actually be less risky for an enemy. Think about it. An SSBN gets sunk off in the Pacific. What the US going to do? Probably nothing. Nothing significant anyway. Compare that to if an ICBM silo gets nuked in the middle of the homeland. BIG difference. ICBMs are actually the more risky target to go after for another power simply because they have to factor in the likely ramifications. If anything, ICBMs are the MOST stabilizing leg of the triad. Any potential enemy knows if they try to attack them they WILL get nuked. And yeah, SSBNs are "all your eggs in one basket" by definition. The whole point of the triad is each leg has strengths, which is why everybody who can afford to pursues this strategy. Furthermore, let's get real. Hitting 450 ICBM silos at the same time before any of them could get of the ground is pretty much fantasy. As you say, this isn't the 60s. Which means we won't have to wait until the first enemy warheads start landing to know "huh, we really ARE under attack". Detection technology has advanced just a tad since then. And lets not forget the industrial base. Seriously, one wonders if people think these things grow on trees and you can just go pick a few if you decide you need them. Not so. We're already likely going to have a hell of a time getting a new, working ICBM, simply because it's been decades since we've done so and most people with experience are retired. Large ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads, and SSBNs are all things that should be on assembly lines that never stop.

Yes reasonable people can disagree. However that does not mean all statements are equally valid. One could believe we could unilaterally get rid of all of our nuclear weapons because, "we haven't had a big war in 70 years so there's no reason to think we'd have one now". Doesn't mean they have a leg to stand on.
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
carsinamerica said:
However, it's time to ditch the land-based leg of the triad. Sferrin is correct that books have been written about over-reliance on submarines, but books have also been written about the destabilizing effect of ICBMs. The key arguments for land-based missiles are traditionally that they are:
* Kept in a high state of readiness
* Easy to maintain
* Cheap
* Capable of higher throw-weight
* More accurate

These arguments date all the way back to the 1960s, when we were developing a multi-platform strategic force. However, the Trident force has delivered greater on-station performance than Polaris/Poseidon. It's a superb weapon system, despite a few early teething troubles. As for the cost, ICBMs are cheaper in some ways, but engineering a new one will be expensive, and the downsides are costs, too. As for the military capabilities, we don't need maximum throw-weight at the moment, thanks to current arms-control agreements. We don't deploy multiple-warhead ICBMs at the moment. We also don't face a particularly robust ABM capacity in our potential adversaries. Therefore, the UGM-133 has the necessary throw-weight to accomplish needed tasks (and has space for plenty of warheads, if we needed to increase our arsenal). As for accuracy, the D-5 is -- by all accounts -- a fantastically accurate weapon, with CMP enough to carry out a first-strike role if needed.

Beyond that, the ICBM is dangerous. In any serious crisis, they are the most vulnerable leg of the triad, and the pressure to "use them or lose them" could become extreme. It also gives us the option to ride out a reported attack without resorting to launch-on-warning, which, protestations aside, should be assumed to be the default U.S. strategic posture. We have hitherto been lucky in this regard, but it's unwise to bet everything that our luck will hold and that we won't face crises that make us think the ICBM force is about to face destruction.

I'm not trying to start a war in this thread, and I know that my view is a minority one on this forum. Still, it's worth acknowledging that reasonable people can disagree on this issue.
Taking out the SSBN force would actually be less risky for an enemy. Think about it. An SSBN gets sunk off in the Pacific. What the US going to do? Probably nothing. Nothing significant anyway. Compare that to if an ICBM silo gets nuked in the middle of the homeland. BIG difference. ICBMs are actually the more risky target to go after for another power simply because they have to factor in the likely ramifications. If anything, ICBMs are the MOST stabilizing leg of the triad. Any potential enemy knows if they try to attack them they WILL get nuked. And yeah, SSBNs are "all your eggs in one basket" by definition. The whole point of the triad is each leg has strengths, which is why everybody who can afford to pursues this strategy. Furthermore, let's get real. Hitting 450 ICBM silos at the same time before any of them could get of the ground is pretty much fantasy. As you say, this isn't the 60s. Which means we won't have to wait until the first enemy warheads start landing to know "huh, we really ARE under attack". Detection technology has advanced just a tad since then. And lets not forget the industrial base. Seriously, one wonders if people think these things grow on trees and you can just go pick a few if you decide you need them. Not so. We're already likely going to have a hell of a time getting a new, working ICBM, simply because it's been decades since we've done so and most people with experience are retired. Large ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads, and SSBNs are all things that should be on assembly lines that never stop.

Yes reasonable people can disagree. However that does not mean all statements are equally valid. One could believe we could unilaterally get rid of all of our nuclear weapons because, "we haven't had a big war in 70 years so there's no reason to think we'd have one now". Doesn't mean they have a leg to stand on.
You are dead on correct in your response I could add a couple of pages but I'll add a couple of things instead.

http://csbaonline.org/publications/2015/06/are-u-s-nuclear-forces-unaffordable/

sferrin - ICBMs are an incredible deterrent value especially given what you said in your post. Unlike SSBNs, ICBMs will force an adversary to 1) Cross the nuclear threshold and 2) use most of their deployed strategic warheads (assuming New STARTs 1550) to take out less than 1/3 of our warheads.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-new-battleship-are-submarines-set-become-obsolete-13124

It would be very dangerous to rely on SSBNs forever and 30 to 50 years is forever to assume they can never be targeted and as previously mentioned the potential to be destroyed conventionally forcing us to cross the nuclear threshold to respond to a conventional attack. WE DON'T WANT to be in that position.
 

bobbymike

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Thornberry Promises to Educate Congress on Nuclear Deterrence

—Otto Kreisher

6/24/2015

The US nuclear deterrence forces and infrastructure are “atrophying,” while Russia is adding to its nuclear capabilities, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry said Tuesday during an appearance at the Atlantic Council. “Our nuclear defense needs more attention,” said Thornberry (R-Texas), who promised to hold a series of hearings to educate HASC members on the danger. As the Russian population and its oil revenues are shrinking, President Vladimir Putin “is putting much more emphasis on his nuclear forces. At the same time, ours are atrophying, ... getting older and older, as are the people who built them,” he said. “Where we’re really lacking is in the weapons systems.” Air Force and Navy leaders are requesting modernization of the land- and sea-based strategic missiles, a new strategic bomber, and replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missiles submarines. The Pentagon also is seeking funds to refurbish the key warheads in the nuclear arsenal, but the defense nuclear infrastructure, which handles the warheads, has become “so deteriorated” that the engineers are leaving, Thornberry said. “I don’t think many of my colleagues on the Hill understand” the problem, the chairman said. (Atlantic Council video of speech.)
 

Kadija_Man

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An interesting and intelligent discussion.

sferrin, you appear to be assuming that your nation would only use one SSBM, to carry all it's SLBMs. Now, while that may decrease the likelihood of it being detected and tracked (there is an awful lot of ocean out there to hide it in), it wouldn't be very sensible from a manpower nor maintenance viewpoint, now would it? Your nation is much more likely to have several SSBMs, now isn't it? To ensure that an adequate force is always at sea, at any given point in time. Multiple SSBMs are still just as hard to find and the ability to engage them all, simultaneously is beyond any potential adversary for the foreseeable future.

bobbymike, your views are based I believe on some obscure belief that ICBMs are "stabilising" but for whom? Your nation or your enemies'? While your argument that taking out an SSBM submarine wouldn't be as destabilising, one submarine isn't the only threat that your enemies would face. They'd need to find, track and destroy ALL submarines, something which at the moment is impossible and will remain so for a long time to come IMHO. One only has to witness the difficulties that submarine hunting experts like the RN faced in the Falklands/Malvinas conflict to see that. The Russian Navy is a lot less expert and the PLAN even less so, while the DPRK's and Iran's Navy are a joke.

By putting all your forces on SSBMs, makes it much harder for them to be found, tracked and attacked, unlike ICBMs and Bombers (at their bases). SLBMs nowadays can equal and even surpass ICBMs in range and accuracy. What they cannot surpass is the bomber's recall ability. Once launched, they are launched, like ICBMs.

With their invulnerability (at the present moment and for the foreseeable future), you are guaranteed to be able to mount a counter-strike, whereas ICBMs and Bombers can and more than likely would be at least damaged if not wiped out in a general nuclear exchange. However, your means of communication with your submarines remains vulnerable to a first strike and that is a worry to any potential commander-in-chief (if they has thought about the problem).

ICBMs and Bombers are definitely vulnerable to a first strike and the first strike danger is a real one in any strategic thinking on nuclear war. Indeed, it is one of the drivers in any MAD subverting doctrine. SLBMs OTOH ensure that a first strike will never succeed sufficiently well enough to prevent a second strike from severely damaging your nation.

ICBMs and Bombers are though, definitely cheaper to build and maintain, because they are based on land and don't move around.

So, in any strategic consideration, it will always come down to cost, unless there are egos involved. Which armed force is going to be the one with the biggest clout and the biggest vote in Congress? I'd recommend studying how the RN took over the UK's strategic deterrence in the mid-1960s from the RAF. Very educational reading I feel and a less which shouldn't be ignored.
 

marauder2048

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fredymac said:
SSBN's are great unless something totally unexpected and bizarre happens like finally coming up with a way to spot and track submarines. Before John Walker ruined it all, US SSN's were trailing Russian SSBN's with enough consistency that they changed their deployment strategy. There is enough worldwide research in ASW that it would be risky to assume someone won't finally develop an effective system.


The basic principle is not having all your eggs in one basket.


For bombers, there is the added advantage of being useful for other purposes.
Totally agree. The original Ohio sub plan called for 24 boats and we got 18 down to 14 now.
The current Ohio Replacement program calls for 12 boats. Say we get 10. Of those, the number on deterrence patrol at any given time will be no more than say 6 boats carrying 96 missiles in total.

A force that small is far more susceptible to attrition from breakthroughs in ASW which the world will be investing in heavily as submarines proliferate in the Asia Pacific region.

It's worth pointing out that you don't necessarily need to destroy a boomer you just need to stay in close enough contact so as to prevent it from getting into SLBM launch posture.

My current, heretical view is that you maintain a sea-based deterrent but do so in SSN form only with a
torpedo tube launched version of LRSO. That would solve the SSN shortfall and reduce cost since real
commonality would exist with the air-launched and sea-launched versions of LRSO.

Aside from guidance and RV commonality (fuzing for example) it's hard to imagine that much cost effective overlap could be achieved between SLBMs and ICBMs unless the Navy is willing to take a hit in range by using insensitive propellants or be willing to use liquids in the PBV.

I would argue for a propulsion stack and guidance upgrade to MMIII that would leverage the modernization
already underway. Develop a deploy an evader + accuracy enhanced MaRV and defend the silos with as many HTK interceptors as possible. All of the above can be done for a fraction of the ORP.
 

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Air Force to brief industry on draft solicitation for new ICBM program Dec. 23/15

The Air Force next month plans to conduct in-depth technical discussions with industry on the requirement to modernize the silo-based intercontinental ballistic missile fleet, a meeting that comes in anticipation of an early 2016 decision to acquire the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, a projected $62 billion project.

The ICBM systems directorate and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center plan to host a three-day meeting, Jan. 11-13 at Hill Air Force Base, UT, with industry representatives, a gathering that comes as the Air Force plans to seek permission by March to formally launch acquisition by soliciting bids for the first material phase of the GBSD -- technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR).

An objective of the gathering is to review draft acquisition documents circulated to industry earlier this month, including a statement of work for the technology maturation and risk reduction phase of development; a GBSD weapon system specification; and a GBSD security classification guide, according to a Dec. 22 notice published on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

In addition, the Air Force intends to brief industry at the January conference on its plans to utilize "model-based systems engineering" in the GBSD program, according to the notice. "The government will provide an overview of how it intends to 'Own the Technical Baseline' (OTB) using a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) approach."

The GBSD program aims to modernize the ICBM fleet in order to keep the silo-based leg of the nuclear triad operational beyond the end of the Minuteman III's service life in 2030. In July 2014, the Air Force -- after weighing a wide range of options -- decided on a plan to develop and deploy a new missile using existing Minuteman infrastructure.

"GBSD will replace the entire flight system, retaining the silo basing mode while recapitalizing the ground facilities, and implements a new Weapon System Command and Control," according to an Air Force summary of the GBSD decision.

This approach carries an estimated $62.3 billion pricetag to develop and acquire though the 2030s, according to the Air Force. A February 2015 draft estimate tallied $48.5 billion for new missiles, $6.9 billion for command and control systems, and $6.9 billion for renovation of launch control centers and launch facilities.

This fall, the Air Force announced in a presolicitation notice that it was "contemplating a sole source award(s) to potentially all prospective prime contractors who anticipate submitting a formal proposal for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent technology maturation and risk reduction contract," according to an Oct. 30 notice published in Federal Business Opportunities.

The aim of the TMRR phase is to complete a preliminary design and function baseline in anticipation of transitioning to development and production.

A Sept. 11 request for information for GBSD outlined a notional schedule that envisioned a TMRR phase beginning with contract award during the second quarter of fiscal year 2017 and concluding three years later in the second quarter of FY-20 with a milestone B review that would transition the program to engineering and manufacturing development. That would be a year longer than the Air Force estimated in its notional schedule submitted to Congress last February as part of its FY-16 budget request.

"The schedule depicted [in the FY-16 budget request] was a notional schedule as the Air Force continues to refine the draft acquisition strategy in preparation for the upcoming Milestone A (scheduled for the end of the second quarter in FY16)," Maj. Rob Leese, an Air Force spokesman told Inside Defense in an email. "The exact timing of Milestone B is still TBD," the spokesman said. -- Jason Sherman
 

sferrin

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bobbymike

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If SecDef Mattis and SecUSAF announce the GBSD is Peacekeeper II I'd be a very happy boy ;D
 

Grey Havoc

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With the probable ascension of Adam Smith to the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee, we can expect to see a screeching halt to both ICBM and tactical nuclear weapons programs.
 

Moose

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Grey Havoc said:
With the probable ascension of Adam Smith to the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee, we can expect to see a screeching halt to both ICBM and tactical nuclear weapons programs.
I doubt presumptive-chairman Smith could assemble the votes to kill GBSD. Curtail or slow, possibly, but not end it. The low-yield nuke fight would be easier for him, but his intentions toward either would have to survive the deal-making process with the Senate. If the Speaker and the Senate Minority Leader strike an agreement with their opposites from the other party as in the massive 2017 deal, he'll fall in line or at worst vote "no" on a bill that is clearly passing.
 

Foo Fighter

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I doubt that very much. World ending has been suggested every time major weapons like this have been mooted and we are still here. If the Russians have upgraded/new weapons so the status quo requires the US and others to have them too. Disparity will be the issue. In any case, the world will not end even if many species are driven into extinction. The world will continue and eventually heal with the possible improvement of other species potential.
 

sferrin

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Foo Fighter said:
I doubt that very much. World ending has been suggested every time major weapons like this have been mooted and we are still here. If the Russians have upgraded/new weapons so the status quo requires the US and others to have them too. Disparity will be the issue. In any case, the world will not end even if many species are driven into extinction. The world will continue and eventually heal with the possible improvement of other species potential.
I was being sarcastic. Before the change in administrations we even had Feinstein ripping on the USAF re the AGM-86 replacement, essentially saying, "how DARE they try to sneak a new NUCLEAR weapon into service". It was if Queen Feinstein was personally insulted that the USAF had the temerity to actually try to defend the country. A real piece of work she is.
 

sferrin

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Wonder what happened there?:confused:
 

bobbymike

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marauder2048

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They've had the "super fuze" aka "path length fuzing" aka an odometer on at least part of the MMIII RV force for some time now.
Wouldn't surprise me if that's the Mk21 fuze replacement test.
 

Michel Van

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I, personal consider the termination of LGM-118A Peacekeeper program as one biggest political mistake in Post-Cold War.
But there open question, how high were Operational cost, maintenance and refurbishment of LGM-118A ?

LGM-30G Minuteman III seems was cheaper option, but that system is 50 years old !
Boeing refurbish the ICBM by replacing the Soild fuel and updating the Electronic system, but still main part of Hardware is 50 years old...

On SSLB the Trident program is also 42 years old, but get regular updated and refurbish.
With Range of 12000 km or 7500 mi is far enough for Launcher Sub to operate in "save water"

What worry me most, is the state of USAF Nuclear Forces, you can have best working ICBM despite 50 year old,
If launch crew order Pizza and let deliver direct into open Launch bunker.
A B-52 fly do mistake with ARMED nuclear weapons across USA.
Or Key figure of USAF ICBM program rampaging drunk true Moscow...
or a Vice Admiral caught in gambling with counterfeited Chips in Indian Reserve Casio

And there it Politic
Several years ago was Dispute and polemic in Capitol Hill about ICBM program and Closure of ICBM bases in USA
The Congressmen and Senators of Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming were quite upset by potential lost of money for there States.
What let to Amendment that the Silos remain and keep open theoretical forever...
see this video for more (stand 2014)
 

uk 75

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There are some interesting parallels with the UK's evolution of it's nuclear deterrent from bombers through an abortive land based missile programme to a sea based deterrent.
By the end of the Cold War the US was desperately seeking a way of protecting their vulnerable ICBM silos from a Soviet strike.
It's bombers relied on cruise missiles to penetrate Soviet airspace.
The UK had found itself in a similar position with Blue Streak and Blue Steel. Money and politics dictated the move to Polaris and thenTrident.
The US is not so constrained. It could develop a new family of bomber launched and mobile based missiles. But if I can hit all the targets I need to from submarines accurately, the bombers and mobile launchers become symbolic rather than practical weapons. Given that neither Russia nor China can deploy large numbers of RELIABLE and ACCURATE strategic nukes are we seeing a repeat of the early 60s missile gap paranoia.
If I were a US taxpayer I would start asking questions
 

marauder2048

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There are some interesting parallels with the UK's evolution of it's nuclear deterrent from bombers through an abortive land based missile programme to a sea based deterrent.
How? The UK's geology is generally unsuited for ensiloed missiles so that quickly limits the options to mobile launchers in some form.

The very short time of flight for Soviet missiles launched from just about anywhere meant that even one Russian sub could threaten the entire
UK land-based mobile launcher force in anything but a fully dispersed state. Same with bombers. So that leaves subs.

None of the above applies to the US.
 

uk 75

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My point was a simple one: By 1989 the USA found itself in the same position as the much smaller UK had nearly thirty years earlier.

I repeat: The future of the silo based Minuteman force was questionable in the face of Soviet silo busters

The B1 and even the B2 would have to carry cruise missiles to penetrate the Soviet Air Defence network.

I appreciate that Putin's Russia is not the Soviet Union so the B2 and Minuteman force are actually more capable against Russia than they were in 1989.

But from the cost point of view, as UK and France have done, is it really still necessary to have the TRIAD? I am happy to hear reasons for it, as I am not a US taxpayer.
 

sferrin

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Similar/same technology?

Did I miss something or does actual deployment of new nuclear weapons by Russia and Chinese get a pass? Hmm.
 

sferrin

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But if I can hit all the targets I need to from submarines accurately, the bombers and mobile launchers become symbolic rather than practical weapons.
Baseless assertion.

Given that neither Russia nor China can deploy large numbers of RELIABLE and ACCURATE strategic nukes.
That's not a given at all.
 

Forest Green

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The newest US ICBM in service rolled off the line in 1977. The oldest Russian ICBM is about a decade newer than that. The last ICBM the US produced rolled off the line in 1988. You can be sure that if and when we ever design another one we're going to run into big problems simply because the institutional expertise is gone. We'll flight test a couple, have problems, and then they'll cancel the "troubled" and "controversial" program.
Or put another way, "we choose not to do these things, not because they are easy but because they are hard."
 

Forest Green

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But if I can hit all the targets I need to from submarines accurately, the bombers and mobile launchers become symbolic rather than practical weapons.
Unless the position of those submarines is compromised.
 

uk 75

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I am always happy to learn, so I rephrase my assertions as questions.
What targets require an ICBM rather than a Trident to hit and kill them?
How many of the various Russian ICBMs and SLBMs match the Trident D5 in reliability and effectiveness? Same for China?
 

uk 75

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Has any British, French or US submarine ever come close to being compromised given the range of their current generation weapons?
 
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