Photo: via Wikimedia Commons
The new year came with finishing touches on the Air Force’s new $4.2 million “Nuke School” and a $3 million prize for research proposals for an upgraded mobile nuclear missile fleet.The initiative is a part of the Air Force’s attempt to refurbish the third leg of America’s nuclear tripod — also called the Triad. Nuclear submarines (Sea) and bombers (Air) have taken funding precedent over the years, while the ground side has gone ignored.
Mark Thompson of Time’s Battleland wrote in his report about the new school:
Many nuclear experts view the nation’s land-based missile force as the most likely to be cut if the nation elects to move to a nuclear dyad.
So the Air Force resolved that 2013 would be filled with renewed interest in bombs housed in “200,000 lb blast resistant vehicles” and “rail cars,” reports NextGov. The enhanced mobility would further harden the defence of ground-side nuclear armaments in the event of a surprise attack — simply because the bombs could move out of the way of any incoming nukes.
The whole initiative is in some ways a response to international pressure, despite impending budget cuts and repeated calls from President Barack Obama himself slowly to dismantle nuclear arsenals.
From a NextGov article:
In September 2011, the centre for Strategic and International Studies reported that China had developed a mobile missile system, the same month Russia indicated it planned to revive its rail car based missile program, which began in 1983 but was scrapped in 2006.
Phillip Coyle of the centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a former associate director for national security and international affairs in the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, told NextGov that mobile nuclear bombs and research into hypersonic delivery systems could kick off another arms race among confused nuclear powers.
Hypersonic delivery systems move at approximately 4,000 mph, and any tests, Coyle said, could result in a false positive by someone like Russia. The result would be a retaliatory strike.
Not to mention that North Korea’s missile test has spooked many American law makers and defence planners, though even they admit that North Korea is unlikely to come up with an effective delivery system in the next 10 years.
The Air Force says it wants the new missile systems, if funded, to last until 2075 without need for any other upgrades.
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