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The government began what is expected to be a divisive debate on the future of the country's nuclear weapons on Thursday and promised a parliamentary debate and vote on the issue early next year.
The cabinet had a "very good" preliminary discussion on Thursday on whether or how to replace the country's ageing nuclear defence, Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman said.
Ministers say decisions must be taken now if Britain is to replace the existing system, consisting of Trident missiles carried aboard four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered submarines, that will reach the end of its life in about 2024.
Originally posted by Thirst
So what do you think the out come will be? I would like to see an entirely new system for the UK, updating the current system would go down in my books as a bit of a bodge job.
Knowing our Government they will probably replace them with super fuel efficient, energy saving green nukes and charge them £5 for every mile they travel.
[edit on 23-11-2006 by UK Wizard]
A comprehensive Strategic Defense Review was completed by the Labor government in March 1998 that resulted in a major revision in Britain's strategic nuclear posture in July. Effective immediately all WE177 bombs were removed from service, and all of them (175 WE 177 A and B bombs - with yields of 200 and 400 kt) were dismantled by the end of August. This left only a single nuclear weapon system in service - the Trident submarine.
In contrast with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United Kingdom currently has operated only a single nuclear deterrent since decommissioning its free-falling nuclear bombs in 1998. This system consists of four Vanguard class submarines armed with nuclear-tipped Trident missiles, performing both the strategic and sub-strategic roles. An official decision on the replacement of Trident, which was developed during the cold war, is expected in the next few years, although it has been reported that preparations are already underway.
Originally posted by fritz
Yes XphilesPhan, we used to have a few. They were based at RAF Macrihanish on the Mull peninsular, alongside an 18 hole golf course.
That was way back in 1969/70 when we still hand the Handley Page Victor, Vickers Valiant and of course the Avro Vulcan.
It was decided that our fledgling missile 'Thor', would be scrapped in favour of 'Blue Steel' that was to be launched from the aircraft listed above and they in turn were scrapped in favour of 'Polaris' which was itself scrapped to allow Trident to be deployed on our fleet of 'attack' submarines.
In this day and age, I personelly feal that such an expenditure would be an insane and totaly obscene waste of money. My personal view is that we would best be served by long range air or submarine launched nuclear armed cruise missiles.
The technology exists which would allow the missiles to fly in excess of 5,000 miles or we could see the deployment of say the Predator with nuclear weapons in the forseeable future.
Now that would be a deterrent!
Originally posted by Strangerous
Thor was UK-based but an IRBM not ICBM - you're both right.
Thor's replacement blue steel/streak was cancelled when the Polaris deal was done
Originally posted by Britguy
Just how independent is our nuclear arsenal though?
Time to sever the ties on this little episode I think. It's clearly a waste of money, especially if a lot of that money goes overseas to subsidise someone elses reasearch.
Originally posted by DissolveTheCND
It shouldn't even be a question of vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We Britons are allowed to have whatever weapons we want, and to use any weapon we consider necessary to be used to assure we are safe, regardless of whether other countries have WMDs or not.
Not only we shouldn't disarm, we should also increase our nuclear arsenal! We have enough plutonium for 12,500 500-kT warheads.
Regarding the missiles and the subs, yes, they should be replaced if needed. Not necessarily by SSBNs, it could be the SEPECAT Jaguar bomber, but they should be replaced.