Once again I read a bunch of newspapers taking a dig at the incoming president’s plans to upgrade America’s nuke arsenal. Sure Merrikka can nook the world 20x over with its current stockpile. Even better it fits a narrative that he’s a red button trigger happy fool who will embark on nuclear war on Day 1 in office.
Let’s look at why upgrading nukes is a sad reality. Nukes from the 80s and 90s aren’t state of the art anymore. It’s a bit like stealth technology. The Americans pioneered stealth almost 30 years ago. Back then it enabled the USAF to go into enemy territory undetected and hit a target. However the Russians, being masters of detection worked out how to overcome stealth, with their S-400 surface-air-missile system (soon to be upgraded to the S-500) rendering it an obsolete technology. The US Forces have ended up taking around 10% of their original demand for stealth craft including the F-22A, the increasingly inept F-35, B-2 and the F-117A. The Chinese worked out that while a F-22 would wipe the floor with Chinese fighters, the conformal fuel tanks and internal missile bays that kept the stealth signature limited combat radius meaning non-stealthy aerial tankers could be taken out meaning F-22s would fall into the drink. A non stealthy Boeing EA-18G was credited with shooting an F-22 down in aerial combat simulation – its electronic interference software made the F-22 think it was somewhere it wasn’t.
So back to upgrading nukes. Now that rogue nations have them, they aren’t the deterrent they once were. By upgrading the home arsenal with superior technology enemies think twice and that is the real motive. It isn’t about simply lobbing a nuke from a silo and fly it across the world in a straight arc. The next gen missiles are supposed to be able to evade anti-missile missiles with superior agility through state of the art kinetics to make sure it can hit its target.
Yes, it all sounds so futile to build up a new stockpile of missiles to finish a job which can already be done 20x over. The idea is to stay a step ahead in the arms race. The Romans realized the trebuchet was more effective than the gladius. The samurai realized that rifles were more powerful than the katana. In WW1 armies realized machine guns were more powerful than rifles. In WW2 the Atom bomb was deemed more effective than deploying a whole army and so on. Defense today progresses in the same way.
It’s easy to run madman twitchy trigger finger scare stories that fit narratives but if they actually understood the motive of staying one step ahead of perceived enemies they may actually seek to congratulate not censure Trump. I know it’s asking too much but perhaps we should look at how quickly Lockheed Martin has snapped into line after being told their rubbish, late, ineffective and massive cost overrun F-35 needs a rethink on price, performance and capability. He hasn’t taken office and defense contractors are complying like chastised schoolboys escaping a potential caning.