Spend Trident Money on the Army?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jonwilly, Jan 16, 2009.

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  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Who Cares?

  1. The UK's nuclear deterrent should be scrapped, according to a group of retired senior military officers.

    General Lord Ramsbotham and Field Marshal Lord Bramall have written a letter to The Times denouncing Trident, saying the system is "irrelevant".

    They argue that rather than spending £20bn renewing the scheme, more funds should be spent on the armed forces.

    Supporters say it is still essential that the UK should maintain its independent nuclear arsenal.

    In the letter, which is to be published in The Times on Friday, the men say the UK is too dependent on the US when it comes to defence.

    They write: "Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of the violence we currently face, or are likely to face - particularly international terrorism."

    I have said this for years.
  2. It seems unlikely that UK could ever fire these nukes,independent of the US.Thus it is not 'independent'.Before scrapping it,and spending the money on other UK Armed Forces equipment,could we not agree,through Treaty,the cover of their nukes?
  3. Its a big game of "What If?" isnt it!

    What if Pakistan collapses and terrorist groups find themselves with a few nukes?

    What if Iran gets a bomb and uses it?

    If a nuke hits the UK it would be nice to think that the Lawless tribal regions in Pakistan where Al-Q likes to hang out would be getting some instant sunshine in return.

    We cannot rely on the US for the defence of the country! (See falklands)

    I think you have misplaced "Could" for "would".

    We can definately fire them by ourselves, but under what circumstaces would the use of force Necessitate the use of nuclear weapons?
  4. This is a good old game of what ifs played out with the not so subtle aim of give me money now. 20Bn is peanuts. (reminds me of the shooting stars game show where by Matt Lucas did the "song" peanuts). Why can we make huge amounts of money available to banks etc yet not afford our nuclear deterrent and all of the political, technological, independence and worldwide ammunition that it gives us?

    I'm in favour of the big stick. Infact I'm in favour of making it known that if attacked, ala Falklands, that we wouldn't hesitate to use it.
  5. Er, no...this has been rather neatly answered repeatedly over the last forty years.
    There are no British Trident missiles, only Trident missiles given to Britain. The plants that make British bombs are partly US-owned, and the software come from the US - and requires updating. The US navy has a permanent lock on the location of British nuclear submarines.
    There is no practical way Britain could ever fire a Trident without US permission first. The deterrent is only independent in that the Americans will let you pull the trigger after they have decided that nuclear weapon use is warranted.
  6. What are their purpose?

    If a terrorist goes nuclear, who do you bomb?

    Fine against nations and states who don´t want their citizens vapourised in return, but very little use against smaller terrorist groups.
  7. The parts I've highlighted are in no way true.
  8. I am undecided as to whether we need them or not. However, what I am absolutely certain of is that if these weapons are scrapped or, simply, not replaced, the '£20 billion' will not find its way into the defence budget.

    Do these Generals really think otherwise?
  9. The missiles are serviced by the US.The weapons are ours and serviced by us, the plants are also ours. Some bits of the plants are run by a civvy company who are partially owned by the General Atomic - but they are ours.

    There is no dual key system.

    They are Indpendent.
  10. Do they not rely on a GPS system owned by the USA ??
  11. Perhaps the argument should be not "do we need nuclear weapons "full stop", but do we need STRATEGIC nuclear weapons a la Trident and its eventual replacement? The use of a strategic weapon, as previous posters have said are of limited use (note: not "no" use, but limited) in the current world environment – terrorism, Piracy etc. However, their value against a "Nation State" (resurgent Russia, a China that is not exactly 100% stable in the current economic climate, N. Korea, Iran etc) now and in the future would, I feel, warrant their retention. Perhaps we need to look then at the type of weapon: A nuclear-armed Tomahawk or re-introduction of low-year air dropped weapons (WE177?) such as the RAF binned a few years back or a Lance-like theatre missile would have more value and be of more "use". The argument may well be should we look at an expansion of the classes of weapons we hold, not the elimination of the only ones we hold. By the by: Can anyone advise if Trident has a "variable yield" option for the warhead? I seem to recall they are not in the old-style multi-megaton range for city busting, but are smaller and one of the arguments for upgrading to them from Polaris without stopping at Poseidon was the accuracy offered by the system, making it a first strike, counter force weapon: 150-200kt accurate to c. 300m arriving @ >17,000mph sound of "use" to anyone?
  12. No they use star mapping and inertial navigation as the primary means of navigation allowing them to be independant of external guidance sources.
  13. Selective yield
  14. No. From the US Navy web site:
    General Characteristics, Trident II (D5)
    Primary Function: Strategic Nuclear Deterrence.
    Contractor: Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., Sunnyvale, CA.
    Date Deployed: 1990.
    Unit Cost: $30.9 million.
    Propulsion: Three-stage solid-propellant rocket.
    Length: 44 feet (13.41 meters).
    Diameter: 83 inches (2.11 meters).
    Weight: 130,000 pounds (58,500 kg).
    Range: Greater than 4,000 nautical miles (4,600 statute miles, or 7,360 km).
    Guidance System: Inertial.
    Warhead: Nuclear MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles).

    I think you will find that the submarines can locate themselves via GPS to enable the missiles to know where they are being launched from.
  15. Well I'm certainly open to correction, as my information is second-hand and based primarily on sources such as this old New Statesman article and similar pieces.

    I'd be happy to be wrong, actually but I think there are strong hints that official independence and actual independence are not the same.