By Hans M. Kristensen
Does the U.S. Navy have more ballistic missile submarines than it needs? Dramatic reductions in deterrent patrols – but not submarines – suggest so.
Over the past thirteen years, the number of deterrent patrols conducted each year by U.S. ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) has declined by more than half.
During most of the same period, the size of the SSBN fleet has remained relatively steady at 14 boats, after four were retired in 2001-2003. Yet the decline in deterrent patrols has continued.
As a result, each SSBN now conducts one deterrent patrol less per year, in average, than it did a decade ago. At any given time, there are fewer SSBNs on deterrent patrol today than in the early-1960s when SSBN patrols first began.
The development indicates that the U.S. Navy may currently be operating more SSBNs than are needed for U.S. security needs, and that the current patrol rate could in fact be maintained with fewer submarines.
This also raises questions about the navy’s plan to build a new class of 12 SSBNs to replace the current class of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. Fewer than 12 submarines would be able to meet the current deterrent patrol level and the number of patrols may even decline further in the future. Continue reading
B-2 to carry new nuclear missile, report on aftermath of Fukushima and much more.
From the Blogs
Groups Urge White House to Take Lead in Reducing Secrecy: FAS has joined 29 public interest organizations in urging President Obama to reduce national security secrecy. In a letter to the White House, the group calls upon President Obama to adopt a recommendation of the Public Interest Declassification Board to set up a White House-led Security Classification Reform Steering Committee.
B-2 Stealth Bomber to Carry New Nuclear Cruise Missile: Hans Kristensen writes that the U.S. Air Force plans to arm the B-2A stealth bomber with a new nuclear cruise missile that is in the early stages of development, according to Air Force officials and budget documents. The B-2A bomber, which is designed to slip through air defenses undetected, does not currently have a capability to deliver nuclear cruise missiles, a role reserved exclusively for B-52H bombers.
By Hans M. Kristensen
Greetings from Geneva! I’m at the Palais des Nations for the second Preparatory Committee (PREPCOM) meeting for the 2015 Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). I was invited by the Swiss and New Zealand UN Missions to brief our report Reducing Alert Rates of Nuclear Weapons.
With me on the panel was Richard Garwin, an FAS board member who for more than five decades has advised U.S. governments on nuclear weapons and other issues, and Gareth Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister and now Chancellor of the Australian National University.
The panel was co-chaired by Ambassador H.E. Dell Higgie, the head of the New Zealand UN Mission and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Conference on Disarmament, and Ambassador Benno Laggner, the head of the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s Division for Security Policy and Ambassador for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. Switzerland and New Zealand have for several years spearheaded efforts in the United Nations to reduce the alert level of nuclear weapons.
I wrote the de-alerting report together with Matthew McKinzie who directs the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Click to download my briefing slides (7.6 MB) and prepared remarks.
By Hans M. Kristensen
The U.S. Air Force plans to arm the B-2A stealth bomber with a new nuclear cruise missile that is in the early stages of development, according to Air Force officials and budget documents.
The B-2A bomber, which is designed to slip through air defenses undetected, does not currently have a capability to deliver nuclear cruise missiles, a role reserved exclusively for B-52H bombers.
Under the Air Force’s plans, however, the new nuclear cruise missile – known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon – will arm three nuclear bombers: the B-2A, the B-52H, and the next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber. Continue reading
Chinese ICBMs, Q&A on North Korea, new CRS reports and much more.
Better Understanding North Korea: Q&A with Seven East Asian Experts
Researchers from FAS asked seven individuals who are experts in East Asia about the the recent escalation in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Is North Korea’s recent success with its nuclear test and satellite launch evidence that it is maturing? Is there trepidation in Japan over the perceived threat of North Korea attacking Japan with a nuclear weapon? How does the increase in tension affect South Korean President Park Guen-he’s political agenda?