Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

United States Nuclear Forces

"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capabilities until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
Donald Trump, 22 December 2016

"Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass. And outlast them all."
Donald Trump, 23 December 2016








Missile Defense

Air Defense

Katrina Pierson, spokeswoman for GOP front-runner Donald Trump, asked what the point of having nuclear weapons is if the United States is “afraid” to use them during a 19 December 2015 appearance on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor.” What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” she asked. Fellow guest Kurt Schlichter was blown away by Pierson’s comment. “The point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing. You want to scare the hell out of the other side,” he said. “And frankly, my side’ll be more scared if Donald Trump gets his finger on the button.”

Trump was criticized for fumbling a question about the country’s nuclear triad during the 15 December 2015 Republican debate. “For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me,” Donald Trump replied. “I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important....”

The Department of Defense announced 08 April 2014 the United States' Strategic Force Structure to comply with the New START Treaty (NST). The treaty limits the total number of deployed and non-deployed strategic delivery vehicles to 800. By Feb. 5, 2018, the total deployed and non-deployed force will consist of 454 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, 280 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and 66 heavy bombers. U.S. deployed forces will consist of 400 deployed ICBMs. There will also be 240 deployed SLBMs. DoD will also maintain 60 deployed nuclear capable heavy bombers, for a total of 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, the treaty limit.

This force supports the president's national security strategy and nuclear weapons employment strategy and maintains strategic stability and deterrence, extended deterrence, and allied assurance. This force structure maintains the commitments set forth in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the report to Congress on the president's new nuclear employment guidance, and the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review that the United States will maintain a triad of ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers within the central NST limits.

As set forth in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the United States will maintain a Triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear-capable heavy bombers within the New START Treaty central limits. Specifically, the Administration will retain a mix of silo-based Minuteman III ICBMs (down-loaded to carry a single warhead), Trident II SLBMs carried on Ohio-class strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs), and B-2A and B-52H nuclear-capable heavy bombers.

The Department of Defense (DOD) informed Congress in May 2012 that it intended to invest at least $118.5 billion to sustain and modernize nuclear delivery systems between fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2022, while the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), informed Congress in February 2011 that it had identified about $90 billion in nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure costs over roughly the same period.

The New START Treaty establishes central limits on the number of nuclear delivery platforms and warheads associated with them: 700 for deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers; 800 for deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers; and 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers. By February 5, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) will transition today’s triad to the Treaty-compliant force structure below which fully supports the President’s National Security Strategy and Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy.

Existing Types of ICBMs, SLBMs,
and heavy bombers
Minuteman III ICBMs [note 1] 454 400 454
Trident II SLBMs 336 240 280
B-2A/B-52H Bombers [note 2]96 60 66
TOTAL 886 700 800

1 Does not include 53 non-operational ICBM launchers (52 Minutemen III and one Peacekeeper) being eliminated as of 2014.

2 Does not include 13 non-operational B-52H bombers scheduled to be converted or eliminated.

  • 400 deployed ICBMs. In early this year, the US Air Force removed 50 nuclear missiles from their silos, bringing the total number of launch ready land-based ICBM’s to about 400, the lowest level since the Cold War. DoD placed 50 currently deployed ICBM launchers into a non-deployed status by removing the ICBMs from these silos. Non-deployed ICBM launchers include four non-deployed test launchers.
  • 240 deployed SLBMs on 14 SSBNs. DoD will convert four SSBN launch tubes on each of the 14 SSBNs, removing 56 launch tubes from accountability under the Treaty. This will result in a maximum of 12 SSBNs with 20 missiles loaded at any given time, providing 240 deployed SLBMs and SLBM launchers accountable under the New START Treaty.
  • 60 deployed heavy bombers. DoD will retain 19 B-2As and 41 B-52Hs as nuclear capable heavy bombers, and will convert 30 B-52H bombers to a conventional only role, thereby removing them from accountability under the New START Treaty. Non-deployed bombers include three non-deployed test bombers.
  • Limit of 1,550 accountable warheads. DoD will manage the overall accountable warheads under this force structure to meet the New START Treaty central limit of 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers.

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