Accession Number:

ADA609579

Title:

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues

Descriptive Note:

Congressional rept.

Corporate Author:

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2014-09-05

Pagination or Media Count:

44.0

Abstract:

Even though the United States plans to reduce the number of warheads deployed on its longrange missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the New START Treaty, it also plans to develop new delivery systems for deployment over the next 20-30 years. The 113th Congress will continue to review these programs during the annual authorization and appropriations process. During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal contained many types of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The longer-range systems, which included long-range missiles based on U.S. territory, long-range missiles based on submarines, and heavy bombers that could threaten Soviet targets from their bases in the United States, are known as strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. At the end of the Cold War, in 1991, the United States deployed more than 10,000 warheads on these delivery vehicles. That number has declined to less than 2,000 warheads today, and is slated to decline to 1,550 warheads by 2018, after the New START Treaty completes implementation. At the present time, the U.S. land-based ballistic missile force ICBMs consists of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, each deployed with one warhead. The fleet will decline to 400 deployed missiles, while retaining all 450 launchers, to meet the terms of the New START Treaty. The Air Force is also modernizing the Minuteman missiles, replacing and upgrading their rocket motors, guidance systems, and other components, so that they can remain in the force through 2030. It is considering what to do to sustain or replace the missiles after 2030. The U.S. ballistic missile submarine fleet currently consists of 14 Trident submarines each carries 24 Trident II D-5 missiles. The Navy converted 4 of the original 18 Trident submarines to carry non-nuclear cruise missiles. The remaining submarines currently carry around 1,000 warheads in total that number will decline as the United States implements the New START Treaty.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE