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U.S. nuclear weapons are aging quickly. With few spare parts, how long can they last?

U.S. nuclear weapons are aging quickly. With few spare parts, how long can they last?, McClatchy

BY TARA COPP MARCH 29, 2021, MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.

When hundreds of land-based nuclear armed ballistic missiles were first lowered into underground cement silos spread across the vast cornfields here in 1970, the weapons were only intended to last a decade before a newer system came in.

Fifty years later, these missiles  called the Minuteman III  are still on alert, manned by members of the U.S. Air Force in teams of two who spend 24 hours straight below ground in front of analog terminals from the 1980s, decoding messages and running tests on the missiles’ systems to check if they could still launch if needed.

But it’s not the age of weapons or the decades-old technology that troubles their operators. It’s that the original manufacturers who supplied the gears, tubes and other materials to fix those systems are long gone………….

THE PRICE TO MODERNIZE


Next month Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will seek billions to keep the 50-year-old land based missiles running while a debate begins on whether they should be replaced.

It’s a difficult ask: At the same time, the Pentagon is also in the middle of the most expensive nuclear modernization effort in its history.

All three legs of the nuclear triad  air, land and sea defenses launched from silos, overhead strategic bombers or nuclear submarines  are getting replaced with newer weapons systems, simultaneously.

The next-generation replacement bombers, missiles and submarines now under development have a price tag topping $400 billion and are expected to be a primary topic of questioning during hearings next month as lawmakers debate whether modernizing all three legs is necessary……………     https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article250187880.html

March 30, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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