Hurrah! You may have noticed that we’re having a General Election on December 12th.

This opinion piece was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by Aenaes MacDonnell.

Most of the country is sick to the back teeth of politics thanks to the Westminster governments’ and elected representatives’ inability to compromise and agree on anything remotely associated with Brexit. Possibly, after over three years of pathetic wrangling, we might get a decision one way or another at the Election, and people will surely let out a huge, collective sigh of relief if we do. But I wouldn’t hold your breath as there are still years of post-Brexit negotiations to follow.

For politics and defence geeks, however, it does allow us to check out the different political parties’ current thoughts on defence policy, and particularly their thoughts on the UK’s nuclear deterrent, via their respective election manifestos.

The Liberal Democrats

First up are the Lib Dems, who have produced what can only be described as an anaemic defence policy in their manifesto, sadly (and probably deliberately) lacking in any detail whatsoever.  The party has missed the boat (no pun intended) on Trident replacement, supporting the nuclear deterrent and the replacement Dreadnought class SSBNs, although arguing for three new boats rather that the current four and calling for “maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and  irregular patrolling  patterns” – as if that doesn’t happen already. It’s all a bit half-baked to be honest and looks like the product of much hand-wringing and muddled thinking. Which it might be considering the party wants to legalise cannabis. Too many spliffs while considering defence matters?

The Labour Party

The UK Labour Party has clearly wholly embraced the UK’s nuclear weaponry and its manifest states quite simply “Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent”. No ifs, no buts. Let’s just say that all their party members may not be completely happy with that. I know, because I’ve asked them. Deafening silence.  Also it probably doesn’t go down very well with the party’s Scottish members, whose official position is that they oppose the renewal of Trident.  However, the Scottish Labour manifesto defers to the UK party’s position. Doesn’t really fill you with much confidence, does it?

The Scottish National Party

Then there’s the SNP. The party’s position is quite clear; removal of Trident from the Clyde as soon as practical, which of course leaves huge room for manoeuvre. Here and elsewhere others have been banging on that Trident on the Clyde is a hypothetical independent Scotland’s biggest bargaining chip, an idea met at grassroot member level with a certain amount of grudging acceptance that allowing it to remain on the Clyde until obsolete in return a handsome annual rental might be a pragmatic way of implementing policy.  Comment from the SNP leadership? Zip. But let’s be clear here; stravaiging up and down High Streets in Scotland yelling “Trident oot noo!” until you’re blue in the face (geddit?) just ain’t going to cut it.

The Brexit Party

Meanwhile the Brexit Party, in its “Contract With The People”, an easy and convenient cop-out from producing a full manifesto, says that it wishes to “ensure that the UK maintains its commitment to NATO and …. commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence as an absolute minimum”. This seems to say, by default, that it’s committed to Trident, doesn’t it? Or does it? Questions to Nigel Farage on a postcard please and don’t hold your breath for an answer.

The Conservative Party

Finally the Conservatives, or the “Toarees” as Nicola Sturgeon and co are wont to call them. Unsurprisingly perhaps for the recent party of government (thanks to huge bribes to the DUP for their support), their rather sparse election manifesto supports the maintenance of the Trident nuclear deterrent.  This is suitably vague and can mean all things to all men and women. There is no explicit commitment to renewing the SSBNs and arguably Trident could be maintained in a fashion by continuing with the current Vanguard class boats in service. Plenty of wiggle room there for Bojo and his pals and that’s just what they like to have!

Conclusion

My impression is that Trident in particular, and defence in general, tends to appear towards the end of all parties’ manifesto documents. After all, we are always told that there are no votes in defence, so why spend too much and effort on it, eh?

Allow me to make my personal thoughts on Trident.  Firstly, I believe that from a moral and ethical standpoint it is so indiscriminate as a weapon – sophisticated targeting systems notwithstanding, it is so powerful that huge collateral damage to people and property is unavoidable – that no civilised country would ever use it.

Next, I don’t believe it is truly independent in that I cannot imagine the UK ever employing it without at least the tacit approval of the US (although I also understand that technically it can be used independently), nor do I think it is a universal deterrent – it didn’t deter the Argentinians in 1982, nor the Iraqis in 1990, nor the Taliban and/or Al Quaeda. Nor do I truly believe there exists a credible nuclear threat to UK interests from so-called rogue states like Iran or North Korea. (It may stop the UK being bullied by Russia in the final analysis but I’m not convinced of this).

I firmly believe that Trident is essentially a political weapon, not a military weapon, whose main function is to maintain the UK in the front rank of global powers and guarantee continuing national membership of the UN Security Council, NATO etc etc, a posture supported by successive Westminster governments over the past 50 years plus.  Furthermore, its maintenance, and eventual replacement, places an enormous burden on the MoD’s budget and soaks up vast funds which would be far better spent on the UK’s conventional forces – more ships for the RN, better equipment for the army, better pay and conditions, and better provision for ex-service personnel when they leave the armed forces.

In summary, I think Trident is in fact a weapons system which has no conceivable use and which is far too costly when other priorities should prevail.  Therefore I do not think it should be replaced when it comes to the end of its lifespan by anything similar.  The best thing that could happen here is that the Vanguard class SSBNs should soldier (sailor?) on until they are obsolete and then not be replaced by the Dreadnought class, which should be cancelled forthwith.

Sadly, none of our political parties have the confidence and/or courage to promote anything than some reiteration of the status quo, apart from the SNP that is, and everyone knows that defence is hardly their strongest suit. So it’s more of the same, I’m afraid.

How will you vote now?

104
Leave a Reply

avatar
31 Comment threads
73 Thread replies
46 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
42 Comment authors
JayBeeDJDaveyBSteve RGavin Gordon Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Jamie Skelton
Guest
Jamie Skelton

“Trafalgar class SSBNs” I guess the author meant Vanguard…

Dan
Guest
Dan

if you look back at all the insurance policies you have ever purchased you can say what a waste of money, however you still renew!

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Then why is Iran desperate to develop the bomb? The only thing stopping them is probably the Israelis. Why are North Korea busy building the bomb and missiles. Why has N. Korea already sent a test missile flying clean all over Japan?

There is a big hole in the logic of the UK Defence Journal.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

To be fair it was called an opinion piece.

I thought is was a quite assuming poke at the utterly lamentable political thinking given to defence by all of the parties. Which frankly I think is entirely fair.

George Allison
Editor

Hi Trevor, as outlined above, this is an opinion piece.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

An opinion piece with a big hole in its logic. A hole as big as USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, North Korea… oh yes and France.

George Allison
Editor

Write a rebuttal.

Trevor Holcroft
Guest
Trevor Holcroft

it only needs 1 word… ‘France’.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Iran and North Korea want the bomb to secure their security. They are independent nations with few allies and little to no integration in to the world economy. So having nuclear weapons is the only way to secure their independence especially given the fact many would like to invade them. Whereas we have no one wanting to invade us (including Russia), and since are economy is so well integrated and crucial to the world economy. It would be damaging to anyone if we where destroyed. The world’s linked economy is now what prevents conflict between major nations. Not nuclear weapons.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Beyond hilarious

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

So Iran and North Korea could perhaps integrate with the world economy and not have the bomb for the same effect? Sounds like a plan.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

I know many will disagree with you. But I rather like your conclusion (if a little irrelevant to the actual article), if we are to continue with trident everything besides the crew cost and general operational costs of the submarines should come form outside the MOD budget.

SomeGuy
Guest
SomeGuy

When the class of CASD submarine is confused for a different one I find it difficult to take this article remotely seriously – unless that was the point. A good day to all.

George Allison
Editor

People make mistakes, it happens.

SomeGuy
Guest
SomeGuy

True enough, George, perhaps I am too harsh.

James
Guest
James

Don’t know why this needed the rant at the end, that didn’t add much and had mistakes in, the trident subs are vanguard class not Trafalgar.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

I think the article is a little disingenuous towards the Tories on this issue. I don’t doubt their commitment to Trident and the new subs. The biggest danger for the continuum of this weapon, lies with the climate-conscious voters of the future? How can you fight to save the world’s climate and total destruction by ‘The Bomb’ the two don’t equate?

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

The problem is that Boris is a little bit like trump in that he tends to react to things rather than open up about actual feelings. He is very guarded in purpose so that he can deny responsibility at any point. He has lied over and over again and is ruled by a crazy advisor. The problem we have is that politicians can lie as much as they like as it is not against the law (I think it should be by the way especially where it affects voting). Manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on as… Read more »

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

By not voting for Boris you personally will see what that will actually mean for the defences of the UK. Within a few years, the cuts will be huge on a scale not seen in years.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

By voting for Boris you will also see defence cuts probably higher than the lib Dems. There is no way the conservative spending is affordable and the obvious thing to cut would be defence as it has the least obvious direct affect on people.. I doubt any of the major parties will cut trident though as it is probably the most cost effective defence asset we have in terms of survival of our country.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I enjoyed the article. But Trafalgar class SSBN’s?? Vanguards! The Boomers are nothing like Trafalgar SSN’s except that they submerge and are nuclear powered! Is Trident a political weapon? Certainly. Do I agree roughly 30 billion over a decade, a relatively small sum compared to the total spent by HMG is worth it to maintain an effective deterrent and maintain the UK’s place at the top table of world powers. Most definitely. The issue is not the cost, but from WHAT purse that cost is taken. According to reports that was changed in 2010 and placed inside the MoD Core… Read more »

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Boomers? Bombers, Daniele, Bombers! You’re catching American terms I see. I agree with all of your points, though we seem to agree on most things. I’m all for continuing with the procurement of the Dreadnought class – and we should be thankful that current plans are for a like-for-like replacement of the Vanguards. Some have suggested other used for the class, including using the additional tubes for special forces/UAV/ground attack capabilities with future developments, something which I am also all for. My main concern for the RN is escort numbers, something which needs priority now that other projects have progressed.… Read more »

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Excuse my typing – I meant uses, not used!

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

OMG Lusty! You’re right!!

How the hell did I say that??

Off to the doctors I think.

Andy
Guest
Andy

30 billion plus to put 8 yes 8 trident missile to sea .
That is 3.75 billion per missile how can anyone say that is a good use of resources?
The budget is already slipping and the common consensus is it will be closer to 50 billion than 30 billion .

I would be happy for there be no replacement as long as the the 30 billion allocated over the next 10 years to be spent on conventional arms.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

A reduction of £7 billion (half) in foreign aid over the next 10 years creates around £70 billion. Enough for both, I would have thought?

The money exists, it just needs to be allocated!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Purely an example I should have added.

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

While I follow your logic, the Foreign Aid budget is very much an extension of the UK’s ‘soft power’.

I’m not saying it couldn’t be used better but it seems a ‘popular’ concept with both the big parties.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

You always target foreign aid. It is a bit like trident in that it is useful in a not visible manner. Even the US understands this. We should not reduce it but we should spend it better.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

There’s a very good reason for this Lee 1

UK would be ‘outgunned’ in Russia conflict – think-tank
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50567271

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

And removing foreign aid will just push the problem elsewhere in our security problems and economy. Foreign aid is important and should not be reduced. Spending on defence needs to be increased and our procurement processes need seriously looking at. Don’t replace one with the other.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

“Spending on defence needs to be increased and our procurement processes need seriously looking at.”
Agreed.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

I would qualify that Vanguards can carry 16 missiles with 8 warheads each (limited by a treaty, can have 12 warheads each) and that its CASD, so 365 days a year bar some rare blips. So around £8.2m per day or £514k per missile per day over the 10 years.

Andy
Guest
Andy

I was on about the dreadnought program which carry only 8 missiles per boat . Each boat will probably cost £10 billion which works out at £1.25 billion per missile. Do tell me how can this can ever be justified as a efficient use of taxpayers money. I mean 1 missile tube would fund another 6 type 31 , 1 boat would fund 10 type 26 or another 10 type 45 destroyers. The whole program cost if spent over 10 years would be a extra 10% to the defence budget and will probably be better for the uk economy as… Read more »

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Dreadnought will be able to carry 8-12 missiles (12 tubes). If you include the £10bn contingency then yes they will cost £10bn each. As it stands they will cost £7.75bn (incidentally £640m per tube if you want to divide it like that and exclude every other part of the boat). Even if you were able to fund 100 extra vessels for the Royal navy they could not hope to provide the same deterrent effect as a nuclear equipped Dreadnought class SSBN on patrol “somewhere in the Barents Sea”. With regards to the economy, Faslane will see 8,500 jobs sustained into… Read more »

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

You’d then need to find and pay all the matelots to go on them. I can assure you, they don’t do it for the love of their country.

Andy
Guest
Andy

I was just pointing out what else could be brought with the money.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Although I’m no Tory, I agree pretty much with everthing else you say.

Just to be clear I am struggling to decide who to vote for. Currently thinking in terms of writing No Ta – None of the Above – on my ballot paper. At least I would have turned out and put something on my ballot paper!

Non of them are worth a cross in the box as far as I see at the moment.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Then happily also ignore the virtually non existent voting boxes in Russia and China. Not to mention the completely non existent voting boxes in Brussels. Its a brave new world you happily live in.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Snap. I used to be a LibDem activist, but I struggle to find any of their current policies that I agree with. My grandfather was a working class Labour councillor, who I am proud of. I think he would be ashamed of modern Labour being taken over by urban luvvie Marxists, ignoring British industrial jobs, while spouting PC nonsense & fantasy economics. I am attracted to a watered down version of Corbyn’s policies, but know his full strength versions, he is pushing, will bankrupt Britain. The tories are the nearest to my thinking at this election, but they were utter… Read more »

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Latest from the Corbynistas. In all schools there will be lessons on the wrongness of colonialism and how the British Empire was morally unjust. FFS, there are more important issues that require discourse than dwelling on the past. But this is what I expect from a coward who has never served his country and support terrorist over his own people.

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

“But this is what I expect from a coward who has never served his country”

DaveyB, are you talking about military service ??? If so I really don’t see what joining the Forces has to do with getting into Government. For starters it would discriminate against the disabled. If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick apologies.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

What I mean by coward and never served his country probably needs explaining. 1. There are a number of rumours that he has not put to bed about being linked with East German agents during the 70’s and 80’s. 2. He has never visited a military establishment to discuss his policies or give his support for the armed forces. 3. He has never apologised to the victims of the IRA for his support of these terrorists, quite the opposite. 4. He has never visited Israel to see or hear their point of view. 5. He has never held a ministerial… Read more »

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

DaveyB, I can’t argue with any of that, its safe to say that he’s been on the fringe of politics for year ‘sticking it to da man’ by associating with a lot of dubious anti establishment types (and terrorists etc) getting to run his mouth off to suit himself. Its biting him on the arse now with the anti-Semitic stuff in particular. Its also safe to say that he’s not the kind of boy I’d go for a pint with. None of it should exclude him from standing though, people who think differently to me are entitled to their opinion… Read more »

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

The thing I struggle with is long term politicians who have done nothing else! To my mind I think politicians just like in any other job must be qualified to stand and be voted for. I do believe military service would be beneficial as not only do you see the good and bad in people it opens your eyes to other peoples views especially when deployed with other Nations.

DJ
Guest
DJ

You need a wide range of skills in a parliament. This includes military, science, law, health, business, economics, agriculture etc. I would put politics at the bottom of the list. It’s usually fairly easy to pick out the career politicians. They can give great speeches (written by someone else), but if you hear them talk otherwise, it becomes clear they know nothing about anything. Those with a strong skill base in something else, often refer to that skill base when talking or answering questions & are generally more likely to admit to a lack of knowledge in an area when… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

To be fair I’m no true blue Tory either. Hell I even agree with “some” of Corbyn’s ideas. But only some. Best of a bad bunch for me, and the best way to keep Labour in their current guise out. After 2010 and the Tory betrayal of the armed forces after 13 years of Labou cuts I strayed first to UKIP then the Brexit Party. Concerning Brexit Party – the article states – “Contract With The People”, an easy and convenient cop-out from producing a full manifesto” Well considering – one, the Brexit Party or any other has NO chance… Read more »

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

As a disabled person I watched with horror as the coalition really stuck it to disabled people. I got off way better than most as I had a good job at the time, but as a life long Lib Dem I felt seriously let down. Osbourne didn’t surprise one bit – one nation? Really? If you went to Eton perhaps. I really am struggling to see a sensible way to vote and I want to vote. My Granddad fought on the Somme. He was a man I knew as a kid. Grumpy sod, but I found out years after he… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Entirely in accord with your thinking, Daniele. Perhaps not surprising as it probably sums up most peoples view. For the record I started my voting history like many youngsters being attracted to the ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing / great big melting pot’ temptations of the Labour Party, before very soon learning the harsh lesson that they always trash the economy. Similarly, you have to acknowledge the essential fairness of PR within a democracy, but only if the then elected representatives understand that their job is to exactly mirror the views of their respective electorates, and not… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

The Lords? Agree Gavin.

DJ
Guest
DJ

Perhaps something along the lines of the Australian Senate?
It’s designed to stop any one state dominating all the others due to population. ie Wales would have the same number of Senators as England.

farouk
Guest
farouk

Interesting read from the Scotsman: Russia and China ‘using Scotland as backdoor to influence British policy’ A foreign affairs expert has claimed China and Russia are using Scotland as a backdoor to influence British policy. John Hemmings, a director of the Asia Studies Centre at foreign policy think-tank Henry Jackson Society, said authoritarian regimes were finding a “friendlier ear” in Scotland. The society has accused China of waging an intellectual war on Britain. Scotland has Confucius Institutes based at the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt. Russia has meanwhile prominently featured high-profile Scottish politicians, including former First Minister… Read more »

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Russia and China are playing a clever long term strategy and the Indy debate and Brexit for that matter are so obviously fault lines made in heaven form their perspective.

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Maybe so CR, but they still represent the will of a democratic people under a self- rectifying system that will outlast their own despite it’s faults (not that you disagree with that, mind).
Regards

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Perhaps our system will outlast their’s but we cannot be certain of the future. Our system as vulnerable to complacency on our behalf. It is a precious thing that we need to cherish, trouble is politics in this country is not really working at the moment and too many people are becoming disinterested and disillusioned just as the threat is rising. I was not encouraged when the PM claimed on the BBC Question Time programme that their was no interference from Russia in the last election when questioned about delays to the publication of a report into the issue… If… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Morning. I don’t really feel that there is complacency from the electorate’s point of view. If we take the referendums as the example, they represent the purest form of direct democratic involvement, essentially extending back to classical Greece in format, and result in the highest turnout of us Plebs. Indeed, Democracy tries breaking out all over the world, invariably led by the masses and just as invariably stamped upon by those who prefer to maintain their position of privilege i.e. the Hong Hong local election issue, another ‘referendum’. Even where democracy exists, those granted the power cannot resist attempting to… Read more »

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

HI Gavin, Good point, perhaps I used the wrong word. Fatigue is perhaps a better word. I personally like the idea of referdums for the very reason you give and would like to see one or more over a ten year cycle, but definately on a different subject pleeaasseeeee. I have regularly signed petitions over the last few years as well, although I am pretty disgusted at how some politicians dismiss them and organisations / movements such as 38degrees. These are grass roots movements and our representatives should sit up and engage, not dismiss out of hand as David Cameron… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Not whinging, far from it ChariotRider. Of course the purity of the Greek system didn’t survive manipulation by the power brokers from day one either. It’s a rather long fight!
Have a good evening.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

You’re right it is going to be a long fight.

Have good one. 🙂

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Guy Verhofstadt

LES
Guest
LES

I do support the nuclear deterrent but Trident is a last resort weapon. Instead of the 4 boats of the Dreadnought class could this be reduced to 3 and in it’s place we reinvest in tactical nuclear capability? I do believe the French retain a tactical nuclear capability. This capability (God help us) would allow a measured response to any nuclear threat to the UK and it’s territories.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

The main reason that World War 3 never happened is nuclear weapons. If nukes hadn’t been invented then Soviet Union and US would have gone to war in Europe – it’s not US territory so they would be less cautious when it came to war. Ditto with the USSR. Europe would have been a battle arena once again. I support our nuclear deterrent. Sometimes I feel torn as that £30billion+ could give us a hell of a RN and RAF – more surface escorts, more Astutes, more F35s and maybe more Typhoons. That said, now much of that would count… Read more »

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

The UK Trident force was watered down by Blair & remains a paper tiger. With only one boat on station, with only 40 weak 100 kt warheads, it lacks the clout to “rip off an arm” of a vast country the size of Russia or China. It is effective against a small country where 40 x 100 kt warheads would be devastating ( North Korea, Iran, etc). The Soviet Union was planning to drop 60 nuclear warheads on Britain during the Cold War. I assume the Russian Federation is sticking to those plans, so I would like each UK Trident… Read more »

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

I dont know: 40 x 100kt nukes is still a very bad day for whatever country is targeted, be it Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.

Even to a country as large as Russia, considering at least 2 of those warheads would be aimed at Moscow, it’s not so much “rip off an arm” as much as tear it off and shove it where the sun don’t shine!

40 or 60, doesn’t make a great deal of difference: the threat is there: “even if you can destroy us completely, we still have the power to f*ck you up!”

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Well with S-300/400/500 defences, the danger is only 40 non agile weak warheads, may not get through to do enough damage to deter.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

Don’t the nukes also have decoy warheads in addition to the real ones, or am I imagining that?

Even if we launch all 40 warheads and only half get through, that’s still a lot of damage, a lot of lives lost. You’re still talking a good chunk of Moscow flattened, sites like Vladivostok flattened. It’s still a tremendous amount of destruction, more than has ever been inflicted in one go before. I think it still makes a potent deterrent.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

I’ve always thought that if your Nuclear Deterent Strategy hinges on a single platform operational and ready to go at any moment it should pack the Largest Punch available, not the Smallest.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

The way I see it, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in reality we would have more than one ready to go. We have one sub at sea at all times, plus another in Faslane ready to deploy. The other two in various states of maintenance – assuming that they would have missiles removed for those 2. So say if Vanguard was at sea, Vengeance in dock ready to be deployed, Vigilant and Victorious in maintenance. Obviously Vanguard could fire off all her nukes. Couldn’t Vengeance as well? Either deploy out to sea in a hurry or even fire… Read more »

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

? Never heard of the arms limitations talks? They have to open up the hatches to show the silos are empty. So we have fewer warheads.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

The Trident D5 which we will use on Dreadnaught can comfortably carry up to 8 MIRVs. We have chosen to only carry 5, hence the 40 MIRV count. So technically each boat could carry 64 MIRVs. The Dreadnaughts will also have 12 tubes, but only carry eight missiles. So if the cack hits the fan (and there’s time, a boat could have more fitted. The Trident II/D5 along with its MIRVs carries an assortment of decoys and jammers. Even if the Nation is equipped with the latest S400/500 system. A very high percentage of MIRVs will get through. A 100Kt… Read more »

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Well the Russians are putting money & effort into agile warheads, so they are clearly worried by Aegis Ashore/THAAD etc.
Playing fantasy fleets, with a nod to reality, I would like successor (Dreadnought) to have all 12 tubes loaded, with 60 warheads per boat. One source said the W76 can be tweeked to 120 kt. We are developing a Mk 4a warhead if “The Guardian” is to be believed. So say a 120 kt warhead with RRW tech + mk500 evader agility. That would be a minimum credible deterrent.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

“Next, I don’t believe it is truly independent in that I cannot imagine the UK ever employing it without at least the tacit approval of the US” You can imagine that but it simply isn’t true, the UK maintains independent control of its deterrent. The UK doesn’t need any form of US approval to launch a retaliatory strike, if the US withdrew maintenance support then yes the capability would wither over time but so far the Americans have been very straight in honouring the Anglo/US Polaris sales agreement. “In summary, I think Trident is in fact a weapons system which… Read more »

pkcasimir
Guest
pkcasimir

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, unlikely if the polls are to believed, would ensure that the US demands return of those Trident missiles. No way would the US allow Jeremy Corbyn to control US missiles capable of launching nuclear warheads. Corbyn says he would abolish Trident but would he really once he had his hands on them?

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

The article is very naive about the context of Trident and its use as a deterrent. I’m not sure what qualifications this person has but it is definitely understanding the need for the deterrent. It’s there as an insurance policy and one could argue we would get into a hell of a lot more conventional wars if we didn’t have it. Also it has largely maintained the peace in Europe because of the issue of assured destruction. It’s cheap by comparison and cost us 5-6% of the defence budget per annum…not much really for all these benefits. Yes to answer… Read more »

Matt
Guest
Matt

Well… what an article! Now for my own personal opinions… “Yes lets scrap our nukes and spend all that money on conventional forces instead”….. only for it to get wiped out by an enemy nuke… well done (slow clap). We should continue to use them, even just as a hidden threat. The threat of Nuclear war has probably prevented WW3 – or has it? I don’t know, you tell me. So regarding Argentina, no it didn’t stop them invading the Falklands, but they called our bluff. We felt we could retake the islands conventionally, and we did. A Nuke would… Read more »

700 Glengarried Men
Guest
700 Glengarried Men

Live on the clyde, friends and neighbours employed at Clyde base, 2nd biggest single site employer in Scotland, Most Scots not against renewal, SNP spouting about cost, but considering what 2%of Scots economy contributes to defence v taxes generated to Scots budget by defence contracts I would like to se an overall comparison to see whether it’s a drain or not

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

The Labour Party has clearly “wholly” embraced the U.K. deterrent. Really? I’m amazed. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are both supported by the Socialist Campaign Group ( remember Tribune )and Momentum and all of them are anti nuclear weapons. If they gain power how long do you think it would take before a reason was found to dump defence as a serious Labour commitment?

Andy P
Guest
Andy P

An interesting read, I do like it when someone ‘shows their workings’ to back up their view. I agree that nuclear weapons are a political weapon rather than a military one though where I differ from the author is that I (rather regrettably to be honest) think that we need them if others have them. The argument that they’re no good against an Iran or North Korea don’t stack up for me, they’re not there for those countries, they’re there as part of a multi nation defence against aggression from a larger country or alliance. We could do it cheaper… Read more »

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

“Every election is a choice between a giant douche and a shit sandwich.” Never more true than in this election!

Allen Carey
Guest
Allen Carey

Agree with Harry. And, the short term decommissioning costs for the 4 subs would be vast. And how many hundreds (if not thousands) would potentially be laid off. Trident accounts for 5% of yearly Defence budget and any savings? Spent on non-defence related programmes as a ‘dividend’. Keep it! No brainer!

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

“… no civilised country would ever use it” – no civilised country would go to war either and yet here we are with most of the world still maintaining armed forces to, at minimum, counter foreign adversaries, with countries such as Russia and China using military power to either seize territory or intimidate. Conclusion – the world and humans aren’t as civilised as we like to think and that’s the background against which a country must consider its defence. It is worth reflecting that the WW2 firebombing in Germany and Japan did not cause those countries to sue for peace,… Read more »

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Plus add up all the millions of deaths in just WW2. Almost all killed by bullets and high explosive… Plus a 7 million by gas (although Citizen Corbyn and his acolytes don’t count them)

pkcasimir
Guest
pkcasimir

I think you misread American history. Public opinion didn’t keep the US back in WW1. The US kept back because none of its strategic interests were at risk because of the war. It was only through Woodrow Wilson’s incompetence in the face of German stupidity that the US got entangled in a war that really was not in its interest. Wilson was only elected in 1912 because Teddy Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate siphoning votes away from William Howard Taft. Had either Taft or TR been elected, world history would have taken a quite different turn. You are… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

I won’t debate the rationale as its largely irrelevant to the main point that the US has in the past held back from engagement. We live in different times, relationships are closer today, mutual defence treaties now exist and there are clear strategic reasons for the US to act today. However the UK would be unwise in my estimation to assume that a US Executive and/or Congress would not respond to public opinion that might run counter to such agreements.

pkcasimir
Guest
pkcasimir

I think you are not familiar with the current attitudes in the US towards Europe and the UK. Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with NATO inscribed on a stone tablet. Increasingly Americans see very little benefit in NATO and Trump is not the outlier here. Indeed, it is the Beltway establishment that is the outlier. It’s not their sons and daughters who are serving in the military but the sons and daughters of “fly-over” America. The belief that America’s interests lie with Europe is a phenomenon of recent vintage, relatively speaking. Both Eisenhower and Truman saw NATO as… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

I doubt most Americans hold a strong view one way of the other regarding NATO and Europe which is why they might be influenced by social media more than they should, per my original point regrading the UK’s nuclear deterrent. If a significant percent of Americans can’t name the three branches of their own Federal government then there shouldn’t be much expectation for reasoned thinking regarding Europe and NATO. BTW while it is valid to critique European NATO contributions in general, the UK since at least 2010 has matched or exceeded 2% of GDP as defined by NATO. It is… Read more »

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

Put simply it is our insurance policy and one of the key reasons why the iron curtain didn’t move further west than it did. Taking into considering current threats and a resurgent Russia it’s just as relevant (and needed) now as it’s ever been. This is just my opinion btw and everybody had their right to have an opinion.

TopBoy
Guest
TopBoy

Can some please reverse Osbornes decision to switch the funding Of trident from the core budget and instead draw it from the (stretched) defence budget??

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

I for one would love to see it happen, but we don’t seem to have any polititions with the ball’s to do it.

Ernest Harrison
Guest
Ernest Harrison

I thought it was November, Reading this I now think I have woken up on April 1st. Really I never expected to read this on UDJ no matter who wrote it..

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

We use the Nuclear Deterrent every minute of every day. Clearly the deterrent would have failed if we ever have to use the weapons behind it. During the last 70 years Europe, North America, most of Asia has enjoyed the longest sustained period of peace in history that I am aware of. Where there has been conflict it has been in places where the combatants knew nuclear retribution was unlikely. Is this coincidence. If the death rate had continued in the second half of the twentieth century as it had in the first I doubt many of us would be… Read more »

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Careful, some of them out there will start thinking sense.

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

I think that the type of person who dismisses the decisions of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, vast majority of politicians and military since they all pondered the “Second World War and where did we all go wrong” question is unlikely succumb to sense but we live in hope. Google, Wiki are wonderful things but people rarely use them to challenge their own opinions.

Andrew a
Guest
Andrew a

To me I can’t get past yes at the moment we could rely on others nuclear capability but if trump has shown us anything (and state of rest of world) the world can change hugely in 1 year, once our insurance policy is gone it’s too late, in 10 years Nato may not be there, we could be fighting EU for water resources, no empire lasts forever, see Rome and when it all comes down I want every weapon in the armoury

Matt Hatton
Guest
Matt Hatton

Lot of muddled thinking and misunderstanding there my friend, on just what a Nuclear deterrent is and under what circumstances it may be used.

geoff
Guest
geoff

Interesting article. Cutting to the chase though, my train of thought is as follows-can we believe that the likes of China,Russia, Pakistan, North Korea etc. will EVER give up their Nukes? Rhetorical of course, the answer is a resounding’No”. So, given that fact then who do we rely on for Nuclear Insurance? France? The USA? as an Americophile I still believe the USA is the defender of last resort of the good people of the West but is it ethical for us to accept this free insurance and as pointed out above, Trump is an unpredictable President and we should… Read more »

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

I have mixed feelings about the deterrent, and politics around the issue at the moment are terrible, along with pretty much every other. But please, let me clear up something that has been stated below a number of times: According to the MOD and government, in officially released briefings, the cost of the deterrent has always been part of the MOD’s budget. Not just the maintenance, but the acquisition too. The treasury may well stick it to the MOD in all manner of ways, but not in this instance. The nuclear deterrent has been fully part of the defence budget… Read more »

peter french
Guest
peter french

The above uses the utterly spurious argument that it didnt deter Argentina ,Falklands or Iraq , Of course not the deterrent isnt for small Localised wars , and the perpertrators know it, its to deter the “BIG DOGS” who have nuclear capability . The article is a useless piece garbage from a so called expert. To state that North Korea and Iran havnt got the bomb is to presuppose that that they never will have along with other wishfull thinker Nations.
So keep the deterrent in “CASE”

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

Also, in the Gulf War in 1991 the reason that coalition troops weren’t killed in their hundreds by chemical weapons is that word was quietly passed to Saddam Hussein that if he used chemical weapons against coalition forces then response would be nuclear.

That alone stopped the Gulf War escalating into something far messier.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Wow, having re-read this piece written by Aenaes MacDonnell. It leads me to believe this person is a simpleton! Can they not realise, that the genie has been let out of the bottle and you cannot un-invent nuclear weapons. Imagine for instance if the World gets together and actually agrees unilaterally to get rid of nukes. Then one regime later on decides it wants them again, what’s to be done? Even if they don’t use them, the threat of having them, significantly increases their bargaining power. It is purely delusional to think we can get along without nukes. I really… Read more »

DJ
Guest
DJ

Another point I would like to raise, is the fact that while ever a small group of the “majors” hold most of the nukes, most of the “minors” feel that they don’t need to. They are prepared to rely on allies with nukes to at least keep any wars at a conventional level. If the likes of UK or France decide to bail, there is the potential that more of the “minors” will feel threatened enough to develop nukes themselves. The more players, the more likely a mistake is made. There are a large number of countries that are capable… Read more »

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

I dont think our nukes can target the extinction-level asteroids you describe, though. They’re designed to go straight up then reenter the atmosphere. For planetary defence against asteroids etc we would need to redesign them to reach outer space. I can’t see the world ever unanimously getting rid of all nuclear weapons. Best case scenario for disarmament would be to retain a stockpile under UN control, designed for things like targeting asteroids and near earth objects. But that is best case, and not realistically going to happen whilst there are regimes and governments like Russia, Iran and North Korea. I… Read more »

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

The problem with basing the next CASD sub on Astute is size. The Astute is designed to be a knife fighter hence the x-tail, the CASD due its required size won’t be. The Trident D5 is 13.5m long, put this inside a circle add a launch tube, pressure hull etc, you are probable looking at something closer to 15m, this is big by anyone standards. The Dreadnaught will be fitted with the common missile compartment just like the US’s ne Columbia class. These are bigger than the standard launch tubes, to allow for the replacement of the Trident missile. But… Read more »

JayBee
Guest
JayBee

I agree with the article write, strategic nuclear weapons are political weapons and nothing more. With modern conventional weapons we can take apart a nation if we so wished. I much prefer cruise missile laden Trafalgar class submarines. If necessary put tactical nuclear warheads on cruise missiles but Trident is for destroying cities and that is something we will never do again.