MOD Mode on From Guns This post from jim30 is repeated from the current affairs section on nuclear deterrent. This thread is intended for debate on the RNs role as the main guardian of the nuclear deterrent. The thread will be robustly moderated to keep it on track and is to allow debate and discussion on the RNs role. If your post is deleted PM Guns for explanation. MOD Mode off This post is designed to provide a short guide to the components of the UK nuclear deterrent, and to explain what it consists of and why it is being replaced in the way that it is. Firstly the submarines themselves – There are four in service, and these need replacing in the 2025 timeframe as they will be too old to continue and be certain of availability to meet the needs of the deterrent patrol schedule. Due to the nature of their design, it is not possible to extend their service life beyond a fixed point without risking continuous deterrent cover. This is the primary requirement to replace. We need to start construction soon as the sole yard in the UK capable of nuclear submarine construction will complete work on its existing order book within the next 5-10 years. At this point without new orders skills will be lost and it will delay replacement on the existing class – placing deterrence at risk. Secondly you need to update the warheads to ensure they are safe when not required, and can deliver an instant dose of sunshine when needed. This is ridiculously complex and requires a range of rocket scientists who have more letters after their name than Jarrod's had lovers. This process is an ongoing one, but will take a lot of time and money to keep going. The problem is if you mothball it then suddenly restarting it proves problematic. Once the skills are lost then it becomes very difficult, if not impossible to replace them One thing AWE has done well recently is recruit young grads - the US hasn't and they have recently woken up to the fact their rocket scientists are very old and do you really want someone who can't remember what he had for breakfast fiddling about with a nuclear weapon? Thirdly, you need to maintain the delivery mechanism - this is about ensuring Trident is fit for purpose. Trident as the rocket will continue till the 2040s - we will then help develop and buy whatever the US goes for as a replacement system then. This needs perhaps the least amount of updating. The problem is that people think Trident, and assume we're buying new rockets too. It’s worth noting the new submarines are designed to carry both existing Trident and the likely next generation rocket too. Finally you need to maintain the security and assurance of the Nuclear Firing Chain. Essentially we need to invest in the command, control and communications networks necessary to ensure that we know where the bomber is, that we know where the threats to the bomber may be lurking and have adequate means to deal with them. We then need to have the ability to ensure that when the PM requests a nuclear strike and CDS orders it (important distinction there), that the Nuclear Firing Chain is able to communicate the message in appropriate length of time to the bomber who can in turn deliver the package. Again, this is expensive and ongoing and often forgotten about. One reason why we are investing in Hydrography, MCMV, ASW frigates and SSNs is in part to ensure the surety of the Nuclear Firing Chain. One other point - I will scream loudly the next time someone suggests 'why don't we just use cruise missiles'. The simple reason above all else is that there are no nuclear tipped TLAMs in use anymore and we'd have to develop a new miniaturised warhead to merge with the technology. We'd then need an entirely new set of warheads, C2 measures and also other requirements. The cost would be vastly more than just keeping Trident. The use of SSNs has often been mooted, but consistently rejected as being vastly more expensive, and far less reliable than an SSBN. The use of Land bases and Air bases have also been considered and rejected for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are few places in the UK where you could safely put a silo and if you did, then it is a very large fixed target which is far easier to deny. The US and Russian missilefields are spread out over hundreds of square miles of land, with redundant silos to make it harder to work out where the Missiles are currently situated. The UK hasn’t got the space to do anything similar. This, plus the lack of a land based missile in production at present means we'd have to design a system from scratch to do the job. The design and construction costs, plus that of actually building the silos would be vast. An air based deterrent would require procuring a bomber capability that we don’t have, and an extensive new tanker fleet. This is additional to the procurement of a new weapon which can deliver a strategic warhead at a safe distance and still hit the target . One reason for the RAF getting out of the Strategic game was the lack of a long term long range missile system. We’d have to probably design one from scratch, and the cost would be vast. Also there are issues attached to the massive increase of airbases needed and the bigger vulnerability of the force. It’s also worth noting that the current UK boats reportedly deploy with up to 40 warheads onboard – this is no dissimilar to the RAF V Force capability of the early 1960s, which required multiple aircraft squadrons and a couple of dozen airbases available to disperse to if required. As of next year, the RAF will be operating fast jets from exactly three air bases. One very final point - I will also scream very loudly if someone tells me that we cannot fire without US permission. As I (and others) have hinted at in the past here - the system can work and will work without the US. I have yet to meet anyone who has worked on and briefed on how the NFC really works who would post such garbage. Those who suggest we cannot fire it are not properly briefed and do not know what they are talking about.