The first weapons to be updated will be the warheads attached to the Trident II submarines. In 2018, the NNSA will receive 65 mln USD to fund the project for the next 5 years.
The program of the small warheads transported by Tridents is part of the American answer to Russian violations of the INF treaty. Russia has recently been deploying Iskander rocket launchers on NATO’s eastern flank, targeting Poland and Romania.
Russia has recently been deploying Iskander rocket launchers on NATO’s eastern flank, targeting Poland and Romania
According to the Fiscal Year 2019 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan, over the course of the next 25 years the development, modernization and maintenance of infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons has become the main goal as well as production of the weapons themselves.
25 bln USD
In the US, the Department of Defense is responsible for means of transport of warheads, such as bombers, ballistic rockets and submarines. The warheads themselves, however, are developed by the NNSA – an agency of the Department of Energy.
The NNSA’s programs may cost even 25 bln USD, although that is less than 10% of the total cost of maintaining nuclear weapons over the next 25 years.
The goal is for there to be three kinds of warheads to be carried by intercontinental ballistic missiles. These will replace the W78, W87 warheads (carried by Minuteman IIIs) and the W76 and W88 (carried by Trident IIs).
The American air force will remain with two types of warheads: the B61-12 smart atomic bomb and the W80-4 warhead attached to the LRSO cruise missile.