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Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News has another scoop that probably portends the most important strategic military development of our generation.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has given the Navy go ahead to develop a conventionally armed Trident missile. Two dozen existing nuclear-armed submarine-launched missiles will be converted to carry conventional warheads. The missiles will then be assigned "global strike" missions to allow quicker preemptive attacks.
For the first time since intercontinental ballistic missiles were "captured" in arms control treaties 40 years ago as unique and potentially destabilizing weapons, the United States will muddy the waters by modifying an existing nuclear weapon for use in day-to-day warfare.
The conversion of Trident missiles abandons the strict segregation of nuclear from conventional weapons.
Four Ohio-class Trident submarines that were previously scheduled for inactivation during Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004 are being converted to guided missile submarines (SSGN) over a five-year period ending in 2008. The primary missions of the SSGN will be land attack and Special Operations Forces (SOF) insertion and support. Secondary missions will be the traditional attack submarine missions of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), battle space preparation, and sea control.
These ships will be armed with up to 154 Tomahawk® or Tactical Tomahawk® land attack missiles. They will have the ability to carry and support a team of 66 SOF personnel for up to 90 days as compared to 15 days for a SOF outfitted fast attack submarine (SSN). Clandestine insertion and retrieval of these Special Operations Forces will be enhanced by the ability to host dual dry deck shelters and/or Advanced Seal Delivery System. Each SSGN will be able to conduct a variety of peace-time, conventional deterrent, and combat operations all within the same deployment.
Ohio is the first of four fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to be converted into SSGNs. Prior to the conversion process, each boat unloaded its complement of Trident Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles. Twenty-two of the 24 missile tubes on each boat are being retrofitted to carry up to seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, for a maximum load out of 154 missiles per boat. The remaining two tubes are being converted into Lock-in/Lock-out chambers for use by Special Operations Forces (SOF).
Each SSGN will be able to carry and support up to 66 Special Operation Forces for an extended period of time. These ships will have a specialized planning area, physical fitness equipment, and laser shooting ranges for use by the Operators. Further, SSGNs will be able to carry two Advanced SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Delivery Systems, two Dry deck Shelters, or one of each using the lock-in/lock-out chambers as their docking sites.
Originally posted by longbow
It would be stupid to put conventional Tridents on subs - the reason is - Ohi o subs are too expesnive for such task. It would be cheaper and easier to equip Minuteman or retired Peacemakers with conventional warheads and launch them from US mainland. The difference between arrival is almost nonexistent.
Ohio subs are the backbone of US nuclear war strategy.
Originally posted by longbow
It would be stupid to put conventional Tridents on subs - the reason is - Ohi o subs are too expesnive for such task.
This program, known as the Enhanced Effectiveness (E2) Initiative, included an initial funding request of $30 million, a three-year study, and a full-scale flight test in early 2007.21 Congress rejected the initial funding request in FY2003 and FY2004, but Lockheed Martin Corporation, the contractor pursuing the study, has continued with a low level of research into this system.
The E2 reentry vehicle would integrate the existing inertial measurement unit (IMU) guidance system (the system currently used to guide long-range ballistic missiles) with global positioning system (GPS) technologies so that the reentry vehicle could receive guidance updates during its flight.22 A standard MK4 reentry vehicle, which is the reentry vehicle deployed on many Trident SLBMs, would be modified with steering system, allowing it to maneuver when approaching its target to improve its accuracy and increase its angle of penetration. This steering system, which the Navy has referred to as a “backpack extension,” would increase the size of the reentry vehicle, making it comparable in size to the MK5 reentry vehicle that is also deployed on Trident missiles. The E2 warhead could possibly provide Trident missiles with the accuracy to strike within 10 meters of their intended, stationary, targets. This accuracy would not only improve the lethality of the nuclear warheads but it would also permit the missiles to destroy some types of targets with conventional warheads.23 Lockheed Martin, has flown two reentry vehicles in test flights of Tridentmissiles.24 In a test conducted in 2002, it demonstrated that the new reentry vehicle could steer towards a target and strike with improved accuracy. In a test conducted in early 2005, a modified version of its reentry vehicle demonstrated that it could not only steer towards a target with improved accuracy, but also slow down and “control the impact conditions,” capabilities that would be needed for the delivery of some types of conventional warheads to their targets.
Lockheed estimates that, if the program received funding from Congress beginning in FY2006, its reentry vehicle could enter production in FY2010 and achieve an initial operational capability in 2011. The Navy, however, has not sought funding for this program since FY2004,
Originally posted by WestPoint23
Yes, in my scenario the Russians could only launch when their President issued the order. Several Russian generals issued an order to Russian subs to launch strategic nuclear missiles at the US, however the Russian president at the time Boris Yeltsin hesitated and delayed repeating the order. If he hadn’t we also would not be here today.
Originally posted by Zaphod58
Because as I stated before, once they're in the orbital stage, it would be possible to alter their course and drop it on China or Russia, even if you launch on a different trajectory.