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Index of Nuclear Data

Table of US Strategic Nuclear Forces, 2002
Notes


Type
Name
Launchers/ SSBNs
Year
deployed

Warheads x yield (kiloton)
Total warheads*
Total megatons*

ICBMs

LGM-30G
Minuteman III
500
--
--
1,200
353

Mk-12
(200)
1970
1 or 3 W62 x 170 (MIRV)
(300)
(51)

Mk-12A
(300)
1979
3 W78 x 335 (MIRV)
(900)
(302)
LGM-118A
MX/Peacekeeper
50
1986
10 W87 x 300 (MIRV)
500
150
Total ICBMs
550


1,700
503

SLBMs

UGM-96A
Trident I C4
168/7
1979
6 W76 x 100 (MIRV)
1,008
100
UGM-133A
Trident II D5
264/11
--
--
--
--

Mk 4
--
1992
8 W76 x 100 (MIRV)
1,728
173

Mk 5
--
1990
8 W88 x 475 (MIRV)
384
--
Total SLBMs
432/18


3,120
273

Bomber/weapons**

B-2
Spirit
21/16
1994
B61-7/-11, B83 bombs
800
280
B-52H
Stratofortress
94/56
1961
ACM/ALCM/W80 x 5-150 kt
860
130
Total Bomber/weapons
115/72


1,660
410

TOTAL

1,097


~7,600
~1200
* Numbers may not add due to rounding.

** First bomber number reflects total inventory. Second bomber number is "primary mission" number which excludes trainers and spares. Bombers are loaded in a variety of ways depending on mission. B-1B's and B-2s do not carry ALCMs or ACMs. The first 16 B-2s initially will only carry the B83. Eventually all will be able to carry both B61 and B83 bombs. B53 bombs are being retired and replaced with B61-11s.

ACM--advanced cruise missile; ALCM--air-launched cruise missile; ICBM--intercontinental ballistic missile, range greater than 5,500 kilometers; MIRV--multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles; SLBM--submarine-launched ballistic missile; SSBN--nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.


NOTES

After a year in office the Bush administration has completed the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) mandated by Congress in the fall of 2000. The NPR establishes the broad outlines of Pentagon planning for U.S. nuclear strategy, force levels and infrastructure for the next 10 years and beyond. It also endorses significant revisions to the nuclear war planning process to enhance flexibility and responsiveness, which would allow the Pentagon to generate new nuclear attack plans and to have them approved quickly in a crisis.

Not since the resurgence of the Cold War in Ronald Reagan's first term has there been such an emphasis on nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy. There are extensive and expensive plans to revitalize U.S. nuclear forces, and all the elements that support them, within a so-called "New Triad" of capabilities that combine nuclear and conventional offensive forces with missile defenses supported by a revitalized nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Currently we estimate that there are almost 8,000 active/operational nuclear warheads, with nearly 2,700 additional warheads kept in inactive status for a total of over 10,600 warheads in the stockpile (see table). In addition to these intact warheads, there are in storage at Pantex and Oak Ridge, respectively, approximately 5,000 plutonium pits and approximately the same number of canned subassemblies, i.e., thermonuclear secondaries, which are retained as a "strategic reserve." There are another 7,000 pits at Pantex that have been declared excess from warheads dismantled during the first Bush and Clinton administrations. The more than 10,600 intact warheads, and the 5,000 "strategic reserve" pits, so far have not been included in the Bush administration plans for nuclear reductions. What will change is how they are categorized and counted.

With the issuance of the NPR some new terms have been introduced into this special lexicon that we must be sensitive to. The active warhead inventory is now broken down into deployed warheads, responsive force warheads, and spares. Deployed warheads consist of "operationally deployed warheads" and those associated with weapon systems in overhaul. "Responsive force warheads" consist of active warheads not on deployed systems or in overhaul. These are kept in secure storage, but are available to be returned to the operationally deployed force to meet some contingency. Depending on the particular weapon system this may take days, weeks, months, or as long as a year or more. Finally there are inactive warheads, which do not have "limited life components" (e.g., tritium reservoirs or batteries) installed and may not have the latest modifications.

The Bush administration's proposed "reductions" are to be implemented in two phases, the first by FY 2007 with "operationally deployed" warheads reduced to ~3,800, and a second step by 2012 to 1,700 to 2,200 warheads. The main actions to reach these levels are the retirement of the MX/Peacekeeper, removal of four Trident submarines from strategic service, and the downloading of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs.

Unlike the counting rules agreed to in past SALT and START treaties, warheads removed from weapon systems in overhaul are not included in the projected levels of ~3,800 and 1,700 to 2,000. Only operationally deployed strategic warheads are counted.

ICBMs
As of the beginning of 2002, the U.S. has 550 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) deployed of two types: 500 Minuteman IIIs and 50 MX/Peacekeepers. The missiles are maintained at a high alert rate (more than 98 per cent) and can be launched on short notice. To meet the third and final phase of reductions required by the START I Treaty, warheads have been removed from a portion of the ICBM force. The 150 Minuteman III missiles at F.E. Warren AFB that formerly carried three W62 warheads now carry one. The W62 is the only warhead type slated for dismantlement (presumably with pits and secondaries kept) under the Bush plan, but not until 2009.

An extensive modernization of the Minuteman missile force continues under a $5.5 billion five-part program intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of the weapon and extend the service life to beyond 2020:

(1) The missile alert facilities (i.e., LCCs) were equipped with Rapid Execution and Combat Targeting (REACT) consoles in 1996, which reduces the time it takes to target the missiles by 50 percent. REACT is scheduled to undergo a $55 million Service Life Extension Program between 2002 and 2005 to correct deficiencies.

(2) The Guidance Replacement Program (GRP), is replacing the current NS-20 guidance system with the new NS-50, improving accuracy and extending service life, at a cost of $1.9 billion. The GRP was initiated in August 1993. Initial production began in March 1998, with full-rate production in December 1999. Eight annual contracts (total value $1.3 billion) are planned through 2008 for 652 NS-50 guidance sets. The new guidance system was expected to increase the accuracy of the Minuteman III to nearly that of the current MX -- a CEP of 100 meters -- but it may not achieve that goal, according to Pentagon progress reports. Despite these setbacks, installation of the NS-50 continues with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) achieved on July 20, 2000, at Malmstrom AFB when the first 10 sets on operational Minuteman III missiles (plus 4 spares) exceeded the 30- day on-alert requirement.

(3) The Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP), involves re-pouring the first and second stages and remanufacturing the third stage of the Minuteman missile, incorporating the latest solid-propellant and bonding technologies, and replacing obsolete or environmentally unsafe materials and components. A total of nine missiles are scheduled to undergo propulsion replacement in Fiscal Year 2001, followed by 33, 86, and 96 the subsequent three years.

(4) The Propulsion System Rocket Engine Life Extension Program, involves refurbishing the fourth, post-boost, liquid propulsion stage of the Minuteman III.

(5) The Safety Enhanced Reentry Vehicle (SERV) program, scheduled to begin in 2002, will replace all remaining W62 and some W78 warheads on Minuteman IIIs with the newer W87 warhead from deactivated MX missiles. More than a quarter of a billion dollars is earmarked for SERV through 2006 to design, develop, and test the modifications needed to implement this program. Flight-testing will occur before the new Minuteman III/W87 is deployed. We estimate that the 150 missiles at Warren and 50 at Malmstrom will be equipped with the W87 while the other 150 Minuteman IIIs at Malmstrom AFB and the150 at Minot will retain the W78.

The first experimental launch of a combined GRP/PRP Minuteman III missile took place on November 13, 1999, from Vandenberg AFB, California, to the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Pacific Ocean. Normally, three full-scale test launches are conducted each year, but four took place in 2000. One missile was launched in February 2001 and two more scheduled for September, but they were canceled due to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Test launches in 2002 were scheduled for February, June, and September.

All 50 MX/Peacekeeper ICBMs are currently operational. The administration plans to deactivate the weapon system in phases over a three-year period beginning October 1, 2002. Withdrawal will occur in conjunction with introduction of the Trident II missile into the Pacific-based submarine fleet. Current plans call for the MX silos to be retained, rather than destroyed as specified in the SALT and START treaties. MX booster stages will also be retained for potential use as space launch or target vehicles. The majority of the W87 warheads will arm Minuteman III missiles and the balance placed in the "responsive force."

Studies are underway to consider acquisition of a new ICBM to be ready in 2018. Among the new ICBM capabilities the Pentagon says it needs are extended range, and the ability to hit re-locatable, hard, and deeply buried targets.

SSBNs and SLBMs
Eighteen Ohio class (or Trident) submarines constitute the current SSBN fleet. The administration plans to cut the number to 14 by FY 2007 (of which two in overhaul at any given time will not be counted as part of the "operationally deployed force"). The four oldest SSBNs (Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Georgia) will be converted to each carry up to 154 conventional cruise missiles. The submarines also may be used to support Special Operations Forces. There is $1 billion in the FY 2003 budget to begin the conversion. The submarines would remain accountable under the START I Treaty, though they will not carry SLBMs or the 768 warheads attributed to them. To balance the future 14 submarine fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, three submarines may be moved from Kings Bay to Bangor beginning in 2002 establishing seven on each coast.

The Navy has extended the Trident hull life to 44 years. The first of the 14 SSBNs that will remain in service is scheduled for retirement in 2029. The Pentagon is currently studying two options for a new SSBN that would be introduced in 2029. The first is a variant of the Virginia-class SSN. The second is a dedicated SSBN, either a new design, or a derivative of the Trident. The new project would begin in 2016.

Trident SSBNs carry two types of SLBMs. Seven Pacific-based subs carry the Trident I C4 and 10 Atlantic-based subs carry the Trident II D5. There is also one newly converted Trident II SSBN at Bangor, the USS Alaska, which completed its refit in November 2001. The Alaska is expected to conduct its first D5 test launch this spring, but it is already counted as a Trident II SSBN under the START I treaty. The other three SSBNs slated for Trident II refit are, in order of their conversion, Nevada (SSBN-733), Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730), and Alabama (SSBN-731).

Although the Trident I C4 is being retired, flight-testing of the missile continues. On December 9, 2001, the Ohio launched a barrage of four Trident Is. A total of 570 C4 missiles were produced between 1976 and 1986, and 221 missiles have been launched in 117 different flight test events. Each event has involved firing from one to four missiles. Of the 218 attempted launches, 184 were successful while the remaining 34 either failed or did not launch for various reasons. Until the early 1990s, Trident I flight tests were carried out in both the Atlantic and Pacific, but since July 29, 1993, after the last C4 test was conducted at the Pacific Test Range, all SLBM flight tests have been at the Atlantic Test Range off the coast of Florida.

Procurement of the Trident II D5 continues at a rate of 12 missiles per year. A total of 384 Trident II missiles had been purchased through 2001. As a result of upgrading four Trident I-equipped SSBNs, the total number of Trident II missiles to be procured will increase from 390 to 425, at an additional cost of $2.2 billion. Twenty-eight additional missiles were bought for the research and development program. The total cost of the program is now $27.183 billion, or $60 million per missile. Of the 425 Trident IIs, 288 will arm 12 operational SSBNs (with another two in overhaul at any given time), while 137 missiles are scheduled to be expended in flight tests through 2014.

Four Trident II missiles were test launched from two SSBNs during 2001. Since January 1987, 116 Trident II missiles have been expended in 72 test launch events. Each event may launch from one to four missiles. Compared to the performance of the C4 program, the D5 program has been extraordinarily successful. Of the 116 missiles launched, only five have failed or not worked, and since December 1989 the program has accomplished a record of 94 consecutive successful launches, making the Trident II the most reliable strategic nuclear missile ever built. Despite this proven reliability, DOD says that the current flight test level, which is set by Strategic Command, is the "minimum acceptable to meet weapon system reliability requirements." STRATCOM's analysis suggests that it may be necessary to increase flight test requirements in the future.

As a result of extending the service life of the Ohio class submarines from 30 to 44 years, the current Trident II D5 -- scheduled to begin retiring in 2019 -- will be unable to arm the SSBN fleet during its entire lifetime. The navy has therefore begun a program to extend the service life of the D5. The upgraded missile, which is not considered a new missile but a "variant" of the existing D5, is called Trident II D5A. Funding is expected to begin in 2005, purchase of motors is planned for 2010-2012, with missile production to start in 2015. Approximately 300 Trident II D5A missiles are planned, enough to arm 10 submarines.

The U.S. Department of State declared in December 2001 that the SSBN force carried a total of 3,120 warheads, a reduction from the 3,456 warheads the previous year. The reduction was necessary to comply with the warhead limit set by the START I treaty, and involved downloading all Trident I C4 SLBMs from eight to no more than six warheads each. To meet the reductions in "operationally deployed strategic forces" for 2012 there will be further SLBM downloading after 2007.

The SLBMs carry two types of reentry vehicles (RV) and warheads: either the Mk-4 with the W76 warhead, or the Mk-5 with the W88 warhead. The W76/Mk-4 is by far the more numerous, with as many as 2,736 warheads deployed on 16 submarines. Since its initial construction began in 1976, Lockheed Martin's Missile and Space Operations has manufactured more than 5,000 Mk-4 reentry body assembly kits for the U.S. and U.K. navies. In order to ensure that the W76/Mk-4 reentry body can support SSBN operations until 2040, refurbishment of the W76 is scheduled to begin in 2007.

The Mk-5 carries the W88, the most powerful missile warhead in the U.S. arsenal. W88 warhead production ceased after the Rocky Flats Plant (where pits were made) was forced to close in 1989 because of safety and environmental reasons. The total number of warheads produced is estimated to be approximately 400. President Bush announced in February 1992 that no more W88s would be built, but in the late 1990s small-scale production of plutonium pits for the W88 resumed at the TA55 facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. A total of four "development pits" had been fabricated by February 2000. This minimal production is intended to replenish the W88 pits destroyed in reliability testing and will not increase the number of W88s in the stockpile -- though TA55's capability makes this a possibility. The current plan for TA55 is to produce 20 pits per year in 2007 with an eventual goal of 50 pits annually. The first "war reserve" pits are scheduled to enter the stockpile late in this decade.

Design of a new SLBM warhead is underway in Navy's SLBM Warhead Protection Program (SWPP). This program maintains the capability to develop replacement nuclear warheads for both the W88/Mk-5 and W76/Mk-4. One design is described as "near-term" and the other as "long-term."

Bombers
The U.S. has two types of long-range heavy bombers for nuclear missions: the B-2A Spirit and the B-52H Stratofortress. Neither is maintained on day-to-day alert. The B-52 can deliver either cruise missiles or gravity bombs or a combination of both, while the B-2 only carries bombs.

Twenty-one 21 B-2A bombers are deployed with the 509th Bombardment Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The first B-2 bomber was delivered to the 509th Bombardment Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, on December 17, 1993. The B-2 is scheduled to be replaced around 2040, and a follow-on bomber program was begun in 1998.

Of the 21 aircraft, only 16 are Primary Mission Inventory (PMI) aircraft assigned nuclear missions with a variety of weapons. The B-2's nuclear weapons include B61-7, B61-11, and B83-1 bombs. Each B-2 can be armed with either B83s or B61s, but reportedly is not able to mix the two. The B-2 is the only carrier of the new B61-11 earth-penetrating nuclear bomb introduced in November 1997. The B61-11 is a modified B61-7. To the B61-7's original weight of 763 pounds an additional 450 pounds were added to the casing. It is only through the kinetic force of the fast-moving 1,200 lb bomb hitting the earth that allows it to penetrate perhaps just a few tens of feet underground. The resulting explosion of even a low-yield option will cause widespread dispersal of radioactive debris, contaminating the surrounding area.

The bat-winged B-2 has been plagued by technical problems, partly due to its sensitive radar-absorbing surface. In March the Air Force announced that cracks had developed on titanium plates behind the rear exhausts of 16 of the 21 aircraft. During 2001, the average B-2 was available for combat duty just 31 percent of the time, half of the Air Force's goal of 60 percent.

The aging B-52H is referred to by the Air Force as the "workhorse of nuclear weapons employment." The B-52H first entered service in 1961 and is scheduled to remain in operation until 2044. Of a current total of 93 aircraft, 56 are considered PMI aircraft assigned nuclear weapons missions. Only the B-52 carries the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) and the AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM).

ALCMs are equipped with the W80-1 warhead. Although only an estimated 400 ALCMs are deployed, hundreds of others are held in reserve. According to the Air Force there are a total of 1,142 ALCMs in the inventory. This is a reduction of 251 from the 1,393 reported for March 1997, and reflects an ongoing conversion of nuclear ALCMs to conventional cruise missiles (CALCMs, AGM-86C). In addition to these active missiles, an additional 200 ALCMs are kept in long-term storage. Full reconstitution of stored missiles will take approximately six months. A life-extension program is underway to extend the service of ALCMs to at least 2030.

The ACM -- also equipped with the W80-1 warhead -- has a longer range and greater accuracy than the ALCM. The ACM was designed with stealth features to permit use against heavily defended targets. Originally 1,461 ACMs were planned, but the Pentagon announced in January 1992 that production would stop at 640 missiles. A program is underway to extend the service life of the ACM until 2030.

ALCM and ACM operational test launches (minus warhead) are conducted from B-52H aircraft of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota. About half a dozen tests are conducted each year at the Utah Test and Training Range or the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Although the B-1B was described as a "conventional-only" aircraft for years, the Air Force maintained the bomber in a "Rerole" status, able to return it to nuclear missions within months if necessary. Under this plan, spare B61 and B83 nuclear bombs are maintained in STRATCOM's Active Reserve Stockpile. According to the NPR the B-1 will no longer have the "Rerole" status. Of the original 100 B-1Bs, 92 are left.

In addition to front-line air force personnel, the Pentagon in late 1997 approved nuclear certification of full-time personnel from the Air Force Reserve in support of the nuclear war plans.

Non-strategic forces
The U.S. retains approximately 1,620 non-strategic nuclear weapons, consisting of 1,300 B61 gravity bombs of three modifications and 320 Tomahawk Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM/N), a portion of which are in reserve or inactive. Although the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons has declined dramatically compared with the Cold War and the deployment may change further in the future, the NPR announced no new reductions.

An ample supply of B61 tactical nuclear bombs, numbering almost 1,300 exists for various U.S. and European NATO aircraft. Most of the bombs are stored at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, and Nellis AFB, Nevada, for delivery by F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and F-15E Strike Eagle, with a small portion deployed in Europe (see below). The F-117A Nighthawk is also considered nuclear-capable, but is normally not listed in the Air Force budget for nuclear weapons support, but maintained at a lower level of nuclear readiness than the other aircraft. Air Combat Command recommended de-nuclearizing the F-117A in 1992 to free resources for training and onboard computer capacity, but the Air Staff intervened and decided to maintain the platform in a nuclear-capable configuration. The Pentagon is considering whether to extend the life of the dual-capable F-16s and F-15Es or to make a block upgrade to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The JSF is being designed to permit future nuclear capability after it enters service in 2012.

Approximately 150 B61 bombs remain forward deployed at 10 air bases in seven European NATO nations. The Weapons Storage and Security System (WS3) used to store the weapons at these locations was installed between 1990 and 1998, and plans are underway to modernize WS3 before 2005 to maintain the system for another decade. A service life extension study for the B61 began in 1999. Allied aircraft assigned nuclear missions include U.S.-supplied F-16 aircraft and German and Italian Tornado bombers. Several NATO countries currently assigned strike missions with U.S. nuclear bombs are considering purchase of the Joint Strike Fight.

All of the approximately 320 TLAM/Ns (with W80-0 warheads) were removed from their previous storage areas at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California, and Naval Weapon Station Yorktown in Norfolk, Virginia, and are now stored at the Strategic Weapons Facilities alongside strategic weapons for the SSBNs. NWS Yorktown was decertified in August 1997 after its complement of TLAM/Ns was shipped south to the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic at Kings Bay, Georgia, which was first certified to receive the missiles in April 1997. NAS North Island's nuclear certification expired in April 1998 after all of its TLAM/Ns had been airlifted to the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific in Bangor, Washington.

As a result of the 1994 NPR, surface vessels are no longer equipped to carry nuclear-armed Tomahawk missiles. The option was retained, however, to re-deploy them on attack submarines if necessary. While most U.S. attack submarines were credited with some nuclear capability during the Cold War, most SSNs today do not have nuclear missions. In the Pacific Fleet, for example, less than half of the attack submarines regularly undergo nuclear certification. The reduced nuclear requirement is further illustrated by the fact that SSNs that pass inspection are subsequently de-certified to save resources for more urgent non-nuclear responsibilities. If ordered to do so, however, TLAM/Ns can be redeployed in only 30 days. To ensure training and force integration, TLAM/N operations are now included in USSTRATCOM's annual Global Guarding nuclear exercises.

As directed in the 2002 NPR the Pentagon will evaluate the future of the TLAM/N and decide whether to replace, retire, or retain and enhance the missile.

Missile defenses
According to the NPR the above-mentioned offensive forces would be supplemented by a robust series of missile defenses. The administration believes that deploying missile defenses will increase the United States' ability to "counteract WMD-backed coercive threats" by defeating small-scale missile attacks intended to coerce the United States into abandoning an embattled "ally or friend."

The administration plans to integrate missile defense into the New Triad, which, it says, will enhance the United States' ability " to use its power projection forces" by "improving the ability to counterattack an enemy," and may also provide the president with "an option to manage a crisis" involving "one or more" opponents with weapons of mass destruction. The administration asserts that missile defenses can have a "dissuasive effect" on potential adversaries by making it "more arduous and costly for an adversary to compete militarily with or wage war against the United States."

The administration is considering an "emergency missile defense capability" for the 2003-08 time period consisting of a single Airborne Laser for "limited operations" against "ballistic missiles of all ranges," a "rudimentary" Alaska-based midcourse interceptor system against " longer-range threats," and a sea-based Aegis system with "rudimentary midcourse capability" against "short-to-medium range threats."

Based on the technical progress achieved with these early systems, the United States could deploy "operational capabilities" in the 2006-08 time frame, including two to three Airborne Laser aircraft, "additional" ground-based midcourse sites, four sea-based midcourse ships, and "terminal" defense systems, such as the PAC-3 (an upgraded version of the Patriot "Scudbuster" missile that missed most of its targets in the 1991 Persian Gulf War) and the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, slated for deployment by 2008.

Satellites, Intelligence and C3
The new NPR calls for improving intelligence and command, control and communication systems. Measures include expanding the current architecture to "a true national command and control conferencing system" that would supplement the programs that were underway before the NPR was completed.

Currently the designated Extremely High Frequency (EHF) system on the Milstar satellites is scheduled to take over the nuclear command and control function from the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) in 2003. Development is also underway of a constellation of Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) satellites to replenish the existing Milstar satellites and provide additional capabilities. The first AEHF, called Pathfinder, is scheduled to be launched in December 2006, and three AEHF spacecraft are planned to achieve initial operating capability in FY2008, according to the NPR, to "provide nuclear survivable (e.g. against high altitude electromagnetic pulse), anti jam, low and medium data rate communications to strategic and tactical users." The NPR identifies a replacement satellite for the AEHF, the Advanced Wideband System (AWS), which will begin in FY2003 and launch the first satellite in FY2009.

To integrate all these command and control capabilities, the MILSATCOM Terminals program is developing equipment at a cost of more than $2.3 billion that will enable users to communicate via Milstar, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Wideband Gapfiller System (WGS), Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), and other military satellites, as well as commercial satellites, to support Aerospace Expeditionary Force requirements and maintain essential strategic connectivity for nuclear forces.

In FY2003 the DOD will also initiate an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communications satellite program "primarily for national and strategic users requiring protected communications in the mid latitude and polar regions." The first satellite is scheduled to be launched in FY 2009. The polar capability will complement the Navy Polar EHF satellites currently being deployed, which are designed to provide command and control (including nuclear) in high-latitude areas. The first operational test of Navy Polar EHF was conducted with the USS Scranton (SSN-756) during a deployment to the Arctic Ocean in June 2001.

Extensive modernization is also underway of nuclear command and control aircraft. A fleet of half a dozen E-6B TACAMO (Take Action And Move Out) aircraft serve as the primary relay stations for Emergency Action Messages (EAM) from the National Command Authority (NCA) to SSBNs at sea. TACAMO, which is also known as the Airborne Launch Control Center (ALCC), can -- under restricted conditions -- launch any missile within the Minuteman force as well. Additional modernization is underway to transfer the Air Force EC-135 Airborne National Command Post (ABNCP) to the E-6B, thereby consolidating command and control of all strategic forces into a single airborne platform. When completed, TACAMO will have the ability to relay EAMs from the NCA to strategic forces, and for the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Strategic Command to directly execute command and control of those forces. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was met on October 1, 1998, with the implementation of SIOP-99, and Full Operational Capability (FOC) is scheduled in October 2003, coinciding with the SIOP-04 war plan entering into force.

The Nuclear Complex and Infrastructure
According to the NPR the administration plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear infrastructure, by upgrading existing systems, developing and fielding entirely new systems, and being able to rapidly produce weapons ("surge"). This is designed to "discourage" other countries from "competing militarily with the United States," according to the document

The administration believes that the current arsenal -- a subset of what was in place at the end of the Cold War -- is not what is needed for the future. That arsenal was developed and deployed mainly to deter the former Soviet Union and to carry out the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). In the administration's view, significantly modified and quite possibly new nuclear warheads will be required to accomplish new military missions, and thus the NPR calls for a revitalized nuclear weapon complex that could, if directed, design, develop, manufacture and certify new warheads. The administration believes that the development of this arsenal must begin now because it will take much longer than a decade to complete. This arsenal would have the capability to target and destroy mobile and re-locatable targets and hard and deeply buried targets.

Plans are underway to expand the capacity and capability of the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Pantex nuclear weapons assembly-disassembly plant near Amarillo, Texas, to meet a planned workload of some 600 warheads (assemblies or dismantlement) per year, up from the current capacity of 350.

For the "long term," the NPR projects the need for "a new modern production facility" to deal with the "large-scale replacement" of plutonium components and "new production." The NNSA is "accelerating preliminary design work" on a "modern pit manufacturing facility" so that new production capacity can be "brought on line when it is needed."

The NNSA is embarked on a seven- to eight-year project to expand the capacity and capability of the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to meet the planned workload for replacing nuclear warhead secondary stages and other uranium components. The NNSA is reestablishing advanced warhead concept design teams at each of the three design laboratories -- Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories -- "to energize design work on advanced concepts." This initiative will focus on "evolving DOD requirements," including nuclear weapons to defeat "Hardened and Deeply Buried Targets" and "Agent Defeat Weapons" for attacking chemical and biological warfare sites, and to reduce collateral damage via improved accuracy and variable and reduced yields.

The NNSA is also launching a program intended to shorten the 2-3 year time period that it would take to resume testing at the Nevada Test Site.

last revised 11.25.02

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