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US nuclear weapons test in Nevada in 1957

More More More! Pentagon Chief's Nuclear Triad Upgrades Could Top $1 Trillion

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Faced with an aging stockpile of missiles, bombers, and submarines, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has pledged to spend roughly $108 billion to update the US’ atomic arsenal.

The United States’ nuclear triad relies on its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), cruise missiles, and aircraft and submarines to deliver nuclear payloads. On Monday, Carter indicated that the Pentagon plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars over the next five years to modernize these units.

"The confidence that you’re ready to respond is what stops potential adversaries from using nuclear weapons against the United States or our allies in the first place," he said, according to Military.com.

His comments came amid a tour of Minot Air Force Base, where he examined the facility’s underground stockpile of 150 Minuteman III ICBMs.

"If we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, ineffective and unreliable," Carter said, according to Stars and Stripes.

"Deterrence still depends on perception. What potential adversaries see, and therefore believe, about our ability to act."

The $108 billion price tag is only a starting point. In addition to upgrading the ICBMs, the Air Force also seeks to replace its 20-year-old B-2 bombers and 50-year-old B-52 bombers. The Navy’s fleet of nuclear-equipped submarines is roughly 35 years old and also requires modernization.

Through 2024, the expected cost of these upgrades will exceed approximately $348 billion.

According to the Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments, updating the entire triad could cost well over $1 trillion.

Critics have argued that updating the US nuclear triad is not only costly for the American taxpayer, but also threatens global security.

"Consider the fact that the United States still has about 4,700 nuclear weapons in its stockpile…It’s safe to say we’ve got far more nuclear weapons than we need," Tom Z. Collina, Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund, wrote for Foreign Policy earlier this year.

"The Obama Administration’s nuclear spending plans simply make no sense. It would be like Google investing a trillion dollars in typewriters,” he said, adding that nuclear arms are "artifacts of a bygone era."

But Carter’s scapegoat for justifying this nuclear buildup should come as no surprise.

"It is a sobering fact that the most likely use of nuclear weapons today is not the massive ‘nuclear exchange’ of the classic Cold War-type, but rather the unwise resort to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea," Carter said.

He added that "a diverse and dynamic spectrum of nuclear threat still exists."

"We’re now beginning the process of correcting decades of underinvestment in nuclear deterrence – and I do mean decades, because it dates back to the end of the Cold War."

Related:
US Congress Bill Bans President From Launching ‘First Use’ Nuclear Strike
North Korea Declares Basic Completion of Nuclear Weapons Development
US Lawmakers Unlikely to Cut Funds to Monitor Nuclear Tests
Tags:
intercontinental ballistic missile, nuclear triad, US Air Force, US Navy, Pentagon, Ashton Carter, United States
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  • Bob Hoferer
    Old ^$$ Carter has all the answers, except just how he is going to pay for this 'folly'.
  • Porkbelly Porkerpig
    You can NEVER have enough Strategic ICBM's to use as leverage against...
    When are they going to modernize the Star Wars ICBM Space Fleet?
    Easy, just sell $1 Trillion of US Treasury Bonds to the Russians, and
    another $2 or $3 Trillion to the Chinese [for all the cost over-runs]...::"";
  • alvaro.marfan
    Can Russia manage to help militarily 3 countries presently at war simultaneously: Syria, Irak & Libya?
  • michael
    carter is a moron. as the ability to respond militarily is restricted by other factors operating in a nation. Civil unrest, poor state of R&D, limited resources, potential adversaries sitting on the fence as it were and the list goes on. He seems to be merely banging the drum as he has nothing else to do.
  • jas
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=r125XB89MlA
    Putin's Warning Against Electing Hillary Clinton
    (title not mine)

    Sorry for all the you tube clips, but I think the most direct source is better. Putin is incredibly brilliant and personable. He really is trying to prevent a global disaster. The are few people who speak as concisely and plainly about complicated matters as he does.
  • shaun.byatt
    I read that the cost today to the US for maintaining it's nuclear arsenal, is more real terms than it was at the height of the cold war. That is, it costs more to sit them in their silo's than it did to invent, manufacture and maintain than at the height of the nuclear age. The yanks don't need to throw more money at these problems, they need to stop the graft and corruption that makes their system a joke around the world. Countries other than the US do more on 10% of the budget than can be accomplished in the US, and the stuff works, it doesn't break down and the cost per unit doesn't bankrupt a nation when the unit is destroyed in operation. After all, how many 4billion or 13billion assets can you lose before you go broke?
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