U.S. Submarines will carry Tactical Nuclear Weapons

U.S. Submarines will carry Tactical Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. Navy’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines will soon carry tactical nuclear weapons, as Congress prepares to fund development of a new, low-yield nuclear warhead. The submarines, which form a functional invulnerable retaliatory force in case of surprise nuclear attack, will soon be able to launch missiles with less powerful tactical nuclear weapons. Not everyone is sold on the new weapon, which critics charge is unnecessary and could lower the threshold for nuclear war. The U.S. Navy’s fourteen Ohio nuclear ballistic missile submarines provide a powerful deterrent to surprise nuclear attack. The submarines embark on lengthy deterrence patrols, hiding in the world’s oceans, effectively a moving cache of nuclear weapons that an adversary would find extremely difficult to destroy. As long as the subs are at sea, the U.S. maintains the ability to counter a surprise attack with a counterattack of its own.

Every four years, the sitting presidential administration conducts a review of U.S. nuclear forces. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, commissioned by President Trump, calls for replacing some of the existing nuclear warheads on the Ohio-class submarines with low-yield warheads. The goal is to have the ability to strike urgent, time sensitive targets virtually any place on Earth.