Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced the start of a new nuclear warhead replacement programme.

News of the replacement programme was earlier ‘leaked‘ after US defence officials publicly discussed an agreement for the UK’s nuclear warheads before MPs were told.

The Defence Secretary has now issued a written ministerial statement in Parliament, it is quoted below.

“In 2007 the government, endorsed by a Parliamentary vote, began a programme to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the early 2030s. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (Cm 9161) confirmed the UK’s commitment to an independent minimum credible deterrent, reaffirmed in 2016 when the House voted overwhelmingly to maintain the Continuous At Sea Deterrence posture.

Our independent nuclear deterrent is essential to defend the UK and our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies against the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life. The government’s 2019 manifesto pledged: “We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security”. To ensure the government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warhead to respond to future threats and the security environment.  

As set out in our annual updates to Parliament on the Future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Nuclear Organisation is working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment: to build the highly skilled teams and put in place the facilities and capabilities needed to deliver the replacement warhead; whilst also sustaining the current warhead until it is withdrawn from service. We will continue to work closely with the U.S. to ensure our warhead remains compatible with the Trident Strategic Weapon System.    

Delivery of the replacement warhead will be subject to the government’s major programme approvals and oversight. My department will continue to provide updates through the annual report to Parliament on the United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent.”

Recently, we reported that the build of the first of the new submarines to replace the Trident nuclear weapon carrying Vanguard class submarines, HMS Dreadnought, is progressing at pace.

For the 2018/19 financial year the National Audit Office found that spending on the nuclear deterrent will cost £5.2 billion, or 14% of the defence budget, with £600 million of contingency funding used. Costs were projected at about £51 billion over the following 10 years, £2.9 billion above the projected budget which already anticipated finding £3 billion of savings, which the Daily Telegraph described as a £6 billion shortfall.

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Tom

14% of the defence budget. This is stupid. This money could be better spent on supporting our troop with after services support and increase conventional force levels. More Ships and Aircraft etc. Agree or not?

Levi Goldsteinberg

Fantastic news. An even better that we’ll be designing our own warhead (admittedly derived from the new US one) instead of buying off the shelf

Nigel Collins

We’re going to need to keep pace with or stay ahead of the game that’s for sure.

Russian frigate fires hypersonic missile for the first time

https://www.janes.com/article/94629/russian-frigate-fires-hypersonic-missile-for-first-time

JohnHartley

Well back in the 80s, a Mk 500 Evader manoeuvring RV was being developed as an option for the W76. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact, took away its need so it was cancelled. Time to bring it back?

Nigel Collins

I’ve often advocated on UKDJ for longer range strike capability to defeat an adversaries defences. Not only will it make the target smaller and harder to detect, but keep the men and women of our armed forces safer.

It’s a policy that the US seems to be adopting, not least with the development of UCAV’s.

I also noticed an upgrade is planned for the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, yet another sign of how future conflicts might be fought on day one.

https://www.janes.com/article/94619/raytheon-funded-to-develop-jmews-warhead-for-tomahawk

JohnHartley

Which is why the Russians have added more missiles to their new S350 system, to take down more incoming cruise missiles.

Nigel Collins

What would be the answer in your opinion?

JohnHartley

Russia has watched US air operations, 1990-2020, against Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. The Russians have concluded they need an ample layered defence. So they have, or will soon have, S500, S400, S350, S300 & Pantsir. How does the UK keep its defences credible against that? Well it means spending money. We learned the hard way in Kuwait & Serbia that we needed all weather precision strike. Hence Tomahawk on RN SSNs + Paveway IV for RAF Typhoon/F-35B. So far, so good, but we do not have enough Tomahawk to overwhelm a serious, modern SAM defence. Even Stealthy F-35B dare… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Not at all John,

I posted a similar comment a few weeks back which highlighted a potential weakness in our own defences and was advocating for both fixed and mobile ASM batteries along with Astor Block 1/2NT for homeland air defence.

Additional long-range radar sites would no doubt be a useful addition too?

As we begin what appears to be a new chapter in the cold war with Russia and possibly at some point China, it would be prudent to increase our defence budget to at least 3%.

JohnHartley

Agreed, but fear we might be on the edge of a Global downturn that may scupper any increase for defence or vital infrastructure.

Gunbuster

It was a launch only. The Russian General in charge of the project has already said that the system is currently like “a sick child” and does not work as required.

Again its a match 5 ish missile… Naval forces have been facing match 3.5 and 4.5 Soviet and now Russian Anti Ship Missiles since the 1960s. They are nothing new… what’s an extra 700 odd mph between friends.

Russia has just updated a 1960s vintage match 4 missile with new electronics to keep it relevant.

Nigel Collins

Hence my comment above (We’re going to need to keep pace with or stay ahead of the game), let’s hope you’re right!

22:12:2019

“But President Putin’s eagerness to claim bragging rights is to some extent justified. Russia looks to be ahead in the hypersonic stakes. China is also developing such systems; while the US appears to be somewhat behind.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50927648

Steve Martin

They’re behind if you consider only the missile angle. Have a look below at their hypersonic naval gun/artillery shells. (year old article).

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-the-us-is-quietly-winning-the-hypersonic-arms-race

Nigel Collins

Interesting times!

Mark

I believe the fact we design, build and deploy our own warheads is one of the factors meaning we maintain independent control over the use of our trident system. Buying off the shelf would lose us that independent control.

Dave G

where does it say the new one will be derived from the US warhead? all it says is that it must be compatible with trident (the missile and launch system) which basically means it needs to have the correct bolt at the bottom….

Levi Goldsteinberg
Iain Wood

Surly the previous resolution class was based on the valiant class not the vanguard that is mentioned in the article

The Artist Formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

And there it is the reason the defence budget struggles 14% of it on the nuclear ☢️ deterrent . This cost should be paid separately out-with the defence budget as it used to be before Georgie boy and wee Dave decided to mess about with things .

Ryan Connelly

Yeah separate the costs out as the nuclear deterrent is far more of a diplomatic tool than an actual military one (no one plans on pressing the button as mutual annihilation would not be pretty) that way the more conventional forces we can actually use get the funding to do their jobs.

The Artist Formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

Right on man , the same way I differentiate the transport and distribution elements of my business . makes things easier moving my product over the Mexican border. The D.E.A aren’t looking at Tasty chicken and have no idea.

Ian Parkinson

14% for 100% Deterrence! Not a bad return, hey?

Cam

Great news for all the workers who currently maintain our warheads in England.

Cam

I hate how faslane has a protest camp and it’s still there years later, we will have nukes no matter what these multicultural retards say or think….