Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trident, new weapons and Intelligence 

OK, so would the UK want to deploy this new non-Nuclear weapon on Trident missiles? Maybe we should at least be aware of what is possible.

According to the January 2007 issue of 'Popular Mechanics' magazine about weapons systems developments in the USA:

The plan is part of a program — in slow development since the 1990s, and now quickly coalescing in military circles — called Prompt Global Strike. It will begin with modified Tridents.
The warheads on the these missiles are not nuclear

Traveling as fast as 13,000 mph, the warheads are filled with scored tungsten rods with twice the strength of steel. Just above the target, the warheads detonate, showering the area with thousands of rods-each one up to 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet. Anything within 3000 sq. ft. of this whirling, metallic storm is obliterated.

What is the thinking behind this?

Paradoxically, the weaker our enemies have grown, the less ominous our arsenal
has become. Military theorists call it self-deterrence. "In today's environment, we've got zeros and ones. You can decide to engage with nuclear weapons — or not," says Capt. Terry J. Benedict, who runs the Navy's conventional Trident program from a nondescript office a few miles from the Pentagon. "The nation's leadership needs an intermediate step-to take the action required, without crossing to the one."
In other words Nuclear Warheads are effectively useless as weapons in any practical conflict. If you actually want to deploy weapons systems using an investment in Trident missiles you need something else. Now whether we should want that is a question and a half. The Popular Mechanics article soberly looks at the human reliability question. Like how good would the intelligence be that guides the decision to fire? Dodgy Dossiers, phantom WMD in Iraq and Niger yellowcake come to mind.

If the US deploys this system it could conventionally destroy any selected spot on the globe within 60 minutes of a decision being taken.

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