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The nuclear component of the U.S. armed forces and its impact on American global strategy
Material posted: Publication date: 06-07-2020

After the end of the cold war, the United States has significantly reduced nuclear forces. The risk of a nuclear attack on the United States and members of NATO has been and remains at historically low levels. The combination of unique arrangements between NATO members on the joint use of nuclear weapons and placement of nuclear weapons on carriers of Intercontinental radius strengthened the unity of the organization, provided guaranteed protection Washington and allies.

Since then the situation has changed. The American nuclear deterrent force began to give way to Russian in 2015[1]. With this in mind, when Barack Obama initiated the program of modernization of U.S. nuclear forces[2]. Donald trump continued its comprehensive implementation. To date, the renewal of American nuclear shield is still in the initial phase. According to the report of the congressional Budget office (end-2017) "Approaches to managing the cost of U.S. nuclear weapons from 2017 to 2046 years."[3] the Ministry of defense is ready to spend on upgrading its nuclear Arsenal over the next decade, $400 billion, in the coming thirty years – from 2017 to 2046 years – $1.2 trillion. (see Fig. 1[4]) c inflation between fiscal years, which will be about 6-6,5 percent of all spending on national defense during this period.

Project of the congressional Budget office, of $1.2 trillion. The US, which needs to be spent on nuclear power, $399 billion will be allocated for the modernization of nuclear forces in the following priority areas[5]:

  • the creation and finalization of a new missile submarine strategic purpose (SSBNs, or ballistic missile submarines) class "Colombia";
  • the creation of a new silo-based ICBMs, upgrade and repair of the mines, supporting infrastructure in the framework of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program (GBSD);
  • create long-range strategic stealth bomber B-21 Raider;
  • Upgrade the standing armed ICBMs "Trident-2";
  • the creation of new ballistic missile submarines (SLBM) to replace the ICBM "Trident-2";
  • the creation of new nuclear cruise missiles (CD) for a new bomber.

According to the "Comprehensive review of the status and prospects of nuclear forces of the United States" 2010 (Nuclear Posture Review Report 2010), while there are nuclear weapons, the United States will develop nuclear weapons to maintain parity with other major nuclear powers. In the document the aim is to keep all 3 components of the triad for hedging others. Similar requirements exist in new nuclear policy Review 2018, According to available information the number of deployed nuclear warheads on the results of the modernization will be around 1300 words.

In the 2010 Review also concluded that the current degree of combat readiness of the strategic forces of the United States, where "nearly all ICBMs are on combat duty, a significant number of carriers SLBMs at any point in time is at sea, and heavy bombers not carrying permanent combat duty, will be saved"[6]. This decision is justified since the forces existing in the composition of the air components of the nuclear triad the United States is limited. The average age of existing cars is 34 years. In addition, they all have certain disadvantages:

  • the last of the bombers B-52H left the Assembly hall half a century ago (now in the air force, the United States has 70 B-52H Stratofortress[7], 58 in service, the rest in reserve);
  • the newer B-1B (61 aircraft operated by the US air force[8]) have restrictions on the types of usable ammunition and can no longer carry nuclear warheads;
  • stealth B-2 bombers were built to just 21 points, the product visibly glows in the infrared and on radar, which means in fact a loss of a very expensive aircraft ($2 billion per product).

It is also worth noting that according to declassified records, the Pentagon has about 452 charges for strategic aviation and an additional 300 bombs for fighters[9]. These munitions are an additional insurance, and about 180 of them are on the bases of NATO in Europe[10].

The process of modernization and new equipment deliveries can be fraught with significant risks. For example, during replacement of the weapons the army is not immune from delays. Moreover, they occur when implementing large-scale programs of modernization, which may lead to reducing the alert status of the armed forces. In addition, there is the problem of increasing the adopted programs of development of new weapons. U.S. forces have repeatedly faced with the mentioned difficulties in the course of a much less ambitious upgrades.

It is worth noting that you should not pay serious attention to the periodic calls of certain high-ranking American politicians about the need for General disarmament. For some countries nuclear weapons is the only guarantee of sovereignty[11]. Without it, their situation is considerably complicated, given the developing Washington's global missile defense system and prompt global strike, which is partly non-nuclear replacement of the current triad[12].

We can confidently assert that the Pentagon and the White house will be able to seek funding for the comprehensive modernization of strategic forces. Even the U.S. Congress, which is not always on the side of D. trump, also provides the necessary support for retaining the nuclear triad.

Washington says he does not want to use nuclear weapons and at the same time, simplifies the conditions for its application, taking a phased approach to the modernization of its nuclear Arsenal.

Alexander Petrichuk



[1] L. Nersisyan These Russian Nukes Are Better Than America's. // The National Interest. URL:

[2] Kozin V. After Obama: a trump factor. // National defense. URL:

[3] Is the latest in a series of reports CBO (Congressional Budget Office) about the cost of US nuclear forces.

[4] Bennett M. Approaches for Managing the Costs of U. S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046 // Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office. 2017. October. – P. 2. URL:

[5] Reif K. U. S. Nuclear Modernization Programs. // Arms Control Association. URL:

[6] the Priority was given to the Maritime component of the nuclear forces.

[7] The Military Balance 2018 // IISS. URL:

[8] The Military Balance 2018 // IISS. URL:

[9] O'rourke R. Navy Columbia (SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress. // The Congressional Research Center. 2018 – P. 31. URL:

[10] US Nuclear weapons In Europe. // The official website of the club Valdai. URL:

[11] Brezkun S. high-Precision bluff. // Military industrial courier. URL:

[12] "Global thunder" is not drowned out by problems with a nuclear Arsenal of the United States. // RISS. URL:

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