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New nuclear missiles to cost $95bn, Pentagon estimates

New Nuclear Missiles to Cost $95bn, Pentagon Estimates

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has raised the estimated cost of commissioning a new fleet of ground-based nuclear missiles to replace the Minuteman 3 arsenal, that has been in continuous operation for 50 years to $95.8 billion, officials said Monday.
The estimate is around $10 billion from four years ago.
The weapons, called intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs, are intended for a near-total replacement of US nuclear force over the next several decades at a total cost of more than $1.2 trillion.
Some, including former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, argue that US national security can be achieved without ICBMs, but the Pentagon says they are essential in deterring war.
The Trump administration has affirmed its commitment to deploy a new generation of ICBMs in a 2018 nuclear policy review.
“The ICBM force is highly resistant to any nuclear attack except a full-scale nuclear attack,” the review concludes. “To destroy American ICBMs on the ground, an adversary would have to launch a precisely coordinated attack with hundreds of exceptional, high-yielding warheads. This is an insurmountable challenge for any potential adversary today, except Russia.”
The current fleet of 400 deployed Minuteman missiles, each armed with a single nuclear warhead, is based in underground silos in Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Their number is governed in part by the new 2010 START treaty with Russia, which is due to expire in February.
Russia wants to extend the treaty, but the Trump administration has set conditions not accepted by Moscow.
The United States is also building a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines to replace the current Ohio-class strategic submarines; a new long-range nuclear bomber to replace the B-2 stealth aircraft; a new generation air-launched atomic cruise missile; and a new nuclear command and communications system. It is also working on updated warheads, including an ICBM warhead replacement for an estimated $ 14.8 billion.
The nuclear modernization program was initiated by the Obama administration and continued by President Donald Trump.
Democrat Joe Biden said if elected in November, he would consider finding ways to cut the program.
The Pentagon provided the estimate to Congress last month but refused to release it publicly, until Monday.
Last month, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $13.3 billion contract for engineering and manufacturing development for the new missiles. The total “life cycle” cost, including the operation and maintenance of missiles over their expected lifespan in the 2070s, is set at $ 263.9 billion.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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