New US nuclear missile ‘eats’ $2B without a guarantee of success

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WASHINGTON, BM – Late this week on July 1 (Thursday), the US government launched a phase of engineering and development of a new Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) Weapon System better known as the new nuclear cruise missile. Raytheon will be the contractor for this phase of the project and received $ 2 billion for it.

At his traditional briefing on Friday, July 2, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said the LRSO was key to the American nuclear triad (water, air, land). He reminded accredited journalists that the nuclear triad is the basis of national security.

A nuclear triad is a collection of nuclear weapons, including air-to-air nuclear missiles, ground-to-air nuclear missiles, and nuclear-launched nuclear missiles or submarines.

According to Kirby, the contract awarded to Raytheon is a continuation of a long process in the engineering business and the development of a new nuclear cruise missile for the United States and the defense budget ensures that this phase receives its funding. Kirby recalled that the United States needs to modernize its nuclear missiles.

However, he did not give a clear answer as to what the United States would do if the ongoing review of the need for such nuclear weapons concluded that the missile was not needed. Ie will this contract with Raytheon be terminated and what happens to the money set aside for this development.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the review process, Tony (the journalist who asks the question), but as I said we’re going to be informed by both the nuclear posture review and the budget process. The budget process also has to be respected, and I think we want to – we want to make sure that as we move forward it’s moving forward in both lanes. And again, I don’t know that it would be helpful to speculate about the outcome there, but it’s being reviewed and looked at in the context of both of those processes in parallel,” was the answer to the question asked.

Is there a need?

There is a deadline by 2027 for Raytheon to complete this phase, as stated in the press release announcing the contract. The question that was asked of Kirby is important, as there is currently a debate in the United States and a review of the need for new nuclear weapons, or their modernization.

The United States has prepared approximately $ 270 billion for the development of new nuclear weapons, according to Defense One. The authors of this publication conclude why it is not necessary to spend billions on new nuclear weapons. They think:

First, the United States does not need localized nuclear missiles (the silos we mentioned above) because they become an easy target for the enemy.

Second, the chance of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile due to human error, involuntary “push” of the button, and weak nerves is very high. Just the day before, on May 6, it was a computer problem that failed the launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

Third, intercontinental ballistic missiles are difficult to sell. These are not ships, submarines, planes – this is an entirely different technology that requires high costs, maintenance, and annual testing.

Fourth, the United States has hundreds of missiles with nuclear warheads in its submarines. It’s much harder to find a sub to destroy than a missile silo. For God’s sake, we know where the US silos are.

The presence of hundreds of nuclear missiles in the Pentagon submarines gives the United States a better advantage over Russia. With these missiles, the authors of the proposal believe that the United States can hit Russia’s 50 largest cities at any time.

Investments continue

What will happen to the new nuclear cruise missile is not clear. Even if at some point the United States decides it doesn’t need it, that doesn’t mean it will stop investing in nuclear weapons.

For example, it was announced in early June that Washington intended to develop mobile mini-nuclear reactors to power weapons systems on the battlefield. Funds ($ 60 million) have already been provided for this idea, and they will be included in the 2022 budget.

Funds are being set aside for new bombers, some of which are nuclear. The United States will also provide hundreds of millions of dollars to optimize software, improve communications and autonomous nuclear depots around the country.

But Kirby never gave a clear answer to the American taxpayer – will the contract with Raytheon be terminated if the United States abandons this development? The issue is important because other weapon systems are beginning to suffer serious negatives. One such is the F-35 with its multibillion-dollar costs and nearly 800 problems discovered during its operation.

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