Spend Trident Money on the Army?

Does The UK Need Trident?

  • Yes

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  • No

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  • Who Cares?

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#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."

john
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)

muhandis89 said:
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?
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
Inzile said:
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
.
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
parapauk said:
Inzile said:
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
.
The parts I've highlighted are in no way true.
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.
 
#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?
 
#13
Circus_Pony said:
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?
Selective yield
http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKArsenalRecent.html
 
#14
Do they not rely on a GPS system owned by the USA ??
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
rickshaw-major said:
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.
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.
 
#16
Trident boats can use GPS as a 'cannonball polisher' but they can launch solely with inertial guidance, or if it comes to it from information supplied by a guy with a sextant and chart.

If you accept as a given that the UK is not going to give up nuclear weapons entirely, and you can stake the next decade's entire defense budget on the fact that we're not. Then SLBM, for a variety of reasons, military and political (strategic nukes are a political rather than military system) are the best way to keep your buckets of instant sunshine.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Indeed, no need for such a deterrent TBH - nor is there any need for such a large army or navy.

The UK has higher priorities for it's national budget at this time.

Ferdinand who?
 
#18
Circus_Pony said:
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?
we don't have any strategic nukes. all our nukes are tactical.

I believe, if we are to maintain our permanant security council seat, and to play a significant part in global affairs, we need to maintain anuclear capability. The big worry in the UK, is that this government has denuded our armed forces to the point where nukes will become the weapon of FIRST resout, as we have nothing else. We could easily find our sea lanes closed down and within weeks we would be starving. We no longer have a navy which can defend our food supplies. If we were being starved, there would be no choice but to nuke the offending countries.

If this government want a minimal navy, we should get rid our our nukes, and our permanant security council seat.
 
#19
The world changes very quickly; in just two decades since the fall of Communism the focus of defence has shifted vastly and in a totally unpredictable direction. Where will we be in another two decades?

In the grand scale of running the country, £20bn is very little and well worth paying.
 
#20
Just because your house hasn't burnt down in the past 30 years, do you cancel your house insurance?
 

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