“America is building a new weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear missile the length of a bowling lane,” writes the contributing editor for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (in an article shared by Slashdot reader DanDrollette):
It will be able to travel some 6,000 miles, carrying a warhead more than 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It will be able to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a single shot.
The U.S. Air Force plans to order more than 600 of them…
Based on a Pentagon report cited by the Arms Control Association Association and Bloomberg News, the government will spend roughly $100 billion to build the weapon, which will be ready to use around 2029… The missile goes by the inglorious acronym GBSD, for “ground-based strategic deterrent.” The GBSD is designed to replace the existing fleet of Minuteman III missiles; both are intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs… The official purpose of American ICBMs goes beyond responding to nuclear assault. They are also intended to deter such attacks, and serve as targets in case there is one. Under the theory of deterrence, America’s nuclear arsenal — currently made up of 3,800 warheads — sends a message to other nuclear-armed countries. It relays to the enemy that U.S. retaliation would be so awful, it had better not attack in the first place…
Many of the missile’s critics are former military leaders, and their criticism has to do with those immovable silos. Relative to nuclear missiles on submarines, which can slink around undetected, and nuclear bombs on airplanes — the two other legs of the nuclear triad, in defense jargon — America’s land-based nuclear missiles are easy marks.
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