Accession Number ADA584463
Title U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues.
Publication Date Feb 2012
Media Count 38p
Personal Author A. F. Woolf
Abstract During discussions about the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, Congress reviewed and discussed the plans for maintaining and modernizing U.S. strategic nuclear forces. Although the United States plans to reduce the number of warheads deployed on its long-range 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. As a result, the 112th 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 6,000 warheads today, and is slated to decline to 1,550 warheads by the year 2017 if the New START Treaty enters into force. At the present time, the U.S. land-based ballistic missile force (ICBMs) consists of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, each deployed with between one and three warheads; they will all be reduced to only one warhead over the next few years. The Air Force has deactivated all 50 of the 10-warhead Peacekeeper ICBMs and 50 Minuteman III missiles. The Air Force is also modernizing the Minuteman missiles, replacing and upgrading their rocket motors, guidance systems, and other components. The Air Force had expected to begin replacing the Minuteman missiles around 2018, but has decided, instead, to continue to modernize and maintain the existing missiles, so that they can remain in the force through 2030.
Keywords Air force
B-1 aircraft
B-2 aircraft
B-52 aircraft
Backfit program
Bomber aircraft
Cold war
Department of defense
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Military capabilities
Military modernization
Minuteman iii missiles
Nuclear delivery vehicles
Nuclear warheads
Nuclear weapons
Peacekeeper icbms
Post-cold war era
Postwar
Start i treaty
Start ii treaty
Strategic weapons
Submarine launched
Treaties


 
Source Agency Non Paid ADAS
NTIS Subject Category 74G - Military Operations, Strategy, & Tactics
75 - Missile Technology
74H - Nuclear Warfare
Corporate Author Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note Congressional rept.
NTIS Issue Number 1402
Contract Number N/A

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