A U.S. administration that started out showing sympathy with the Global Zero movement – the one to eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons — has quietly taken decisions that point in a very different direction. Notably, the future of the nuclear-deterrence triad seems more assured than it has for many years.
Between Obama’s election and inauguration, the first significant contract for what is now the Ohio Replacement Program submarine project was signed, and the administration has continued to support it. The controversial issue of whether, when and how the Long-Range Strike Bomber would be nuclear-capable has been put to bed: every LRS-B will be nuclear-capable and it will be nuclear-certified two years after it enters service.
The LRS Family of Systems definitively includes a new cruise missile, and at a symposium in Washington earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, stated that the nuclear-tipped version will take priority over a conventionally armed missile.
The new submarine and the LRS-B are “uploadable” systems that can carry more warheads if strategic requirements change.