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Chapter 6

STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCES AND MISSILE DEFENSES

STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCES

Nuclear forces are an essential element of U.S. security that serve as a hedge against an uncertain future and as a guarantee of U.S. commitments to allies. Accordingly, the United States must maintain survivable strategic nuclear forces of sufficient size and diversity to deter potentially hostile foreign leaders with access to nuclear weapons.

The United States continues to work toward further agreed, stabilizing reductions in strategic nuclear arms, and is confident that once the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II) has entered into force, it can maintain the required deterrent at the force levels envisioned in a future treaty (START III), as agreed to in the March 1997 Helsinki Accords.

START Treaties

The START I Treaty entered into force on December 5, 1994. Russia and the United States are working to achieve the final phase of nuclear force reductions mandated by that treaty by December 2001. The Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II) was agreed between Russia and the United States on January 3, 1993, and approved by the U.S. Senate in January 1996. However, it has not yet entered into force, pending approval of the START II Treaty by the Russian parliament and ratification by both parties of the START II Protocol that was signed on September 26, 1997. START II calls for reductions in aggregate force levels, conversion or elimination of multiple-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, elimination of heavy ICBMs, and a limit on deployed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads. It will eliminate the most destabilizing strategic nuclear systems—multiple warhead ICBMs—and will reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads by about two-thirds from Cold War levels. The original START II Treaty called for the final reduction phase to be completed no later than January 1, 2003.

At the conclusion of their March 1997 meeting in Helsinki, President Clinton and Russian President Yeltsin issued a joint statement establishing parameters for future reductions in nuclear forces beyond START II. In this statement, they agreed to an overall limit of 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic warheads for a future START III Treaty.

Table 11

Reductions in U.S. Strategic Nuclear Arsenal Force Levels
FY 1990 Through 2007

 

FY 1990

FY 1999

START I
(December 5, 2001)

START II
(December 31, 2007)

ICBMs

1,000

550

550

500

Attributed Warheads on ICBMs

2,450

2,000

Not over 2,000

500

SLBMs

568a

432b

Not over 432

336

Attributed Warheads on SLBMs

4,864a

3,456b

Not over 3,456

Not over 1,750

Ballistic Missile Submarines

31a

18b

Not over 18

14

Attributed Warheads on Ballistic Missiles

7,314a

5,456b

Not over 4,900

Not over 2,250

Heavy Bombers

324

115c

97c

97c

a Excludes five decommissioned submarines (and their associated missiles and warheads) that were still START accountable.

b Excludes two Benjamin Franklin-class (Poseidon missile) (SSBNs) converted to Special Operations Forces that are still START accountable.

c Excludes 93 B-1s that are devoted entirely to conventional missions. B-1s are still accountable as a nuclear bomber under START I, but would not be accountable under START II.

 

They also agreed to extend the deadline for elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles under START II to December 31, 2007, but stipulated that systems to be eliminated under START II must be deactivated by December 31, 2003. The Presidents further agreed that negotiations would begin on a START III Treaty immediately after Russian ratification of START II.

These agreements were formalized when U.S. Secretary of State Albright and then Russian Foreign Minister Primakov signed a Joint Agreed Statement and a Protocol to the treaty in New York in September 1997, extending the time period for full implementation of START II until December 31, 2007. In addition, Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov signed and exchanged letters legally codifying the Helsinki Summit commitment to deactivate, by December 31, 2003, the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear delivery vehicles that under START II will be eliminated. START II entry into force will require Senate approval of the Protocol to the START II Treaty and its associated Joint Agreed Statement.

Since establishment of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program in 1991, the United States has been assisting Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in implementing nuclear force reductions required under the START I Treaty. In anticipation of further reductions mandated by the START II Treaty and in potential support of a negotiated START III Treaty, the United States has begun discussing additional CTR projects with Russia that would assist in accomplishing those reductions and subsequent objectives.

Force Structure and Capabilities

Until START II enters into force, the United States is protecting options to maintain a strategic nuclear arsenal at essentially START I levels. Accordingly, the FY 1999 budget request included an additional $51 million to sustain the option of continuing START I levels of strategic nuclear forces. If START II is implemented as amended by the Helsinki Summit letters, accountable warheads will be reduced by the end of 2007 to a level of 3,000-3,500, of which no more than 1,750 will be carried on SLBMs. Strategic nuclear delivery vehicles that will be eliminated under START II will be deactivated by December 31, 2003, providing the benefits of a reduced force structure four years prior to the agreed 2007 date for full elimination.

LAND-BASED INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES

At the end of FY 1999, the United States will have 500 Minuteman III ICBMs and 50 Peacekeeper missiles. If START II enters into force, the United States will modify all Minuteman III missiles to carry only one warhead and will retire all Peacekeepers. In this transition, DoD may redeploy the Mark 21 reentry vehicle (RV), currently deployed on Peacekeeper, on a portion of the single RV Minuteman force. Mark 21 RVs contain features that further enhance nuclear detonation safety and reduce the risk of plutonium dispersal in the unlikely event of a fire or other mishap.

The United States is not developing or producing any new ICBMs. This makes it difficult to sustain the industrial base needed to maintain and modify strategic ballistic missiles. To maintain the Minuteman ICBM system and to preserve key industrial technologies needed to sustain ICBMs and SLBMs, the budget provides funding to replace guidance and propulsion systems, as well as to preserve a core of expertise in the areas of reentry vehicle and guidance system technology.

SEA-BASED BALLISTIC MISSILES

The SSBN fleet has reached its planned total of 18 Ohio-class submarines. The first eight Ohio-class submarines each carry 24 Trident I (C-4) missiles; the final ten are each equipped with 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles. The SSBN fleet’s survivability and effectiveness are enhanced through the D-5 missile’s improved range, payload, and accuracy. The FY 2000 budget provides for continued procurement of D-5 missiles to support the conversion of four SSBNs from the C-4 to the D-5 missile system. Retrofits will be accomplished during regularly scheduled ship depot maintenance periods beginning in FY 2000. If START II enters into force, the United States will retain 14 SSBNs armed with D-5s, while the oldest four Ohio-class SSBNs will be eliminated. These missiles, capable of carrying eight warheads apiece, will be downloaded consistent with START II limits. No new types of SSBNs or SLBMs are under development. The budget also supports Navy planning for a life extension to the D-5 SLBM to match missile life to the recently extended Trident submarine service life of 42 years.

HEAVY BOMBERS

The U.S. bomber force consists of 93 B-1s, 94 B-52s, and 21 B-2s. The Air Force plans to reduce the number of B-52s to 76 in FY 2000. Active B-2s, all deployed at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, are Block 30 configuration aircraft. The remaining B-2s are currently being upgraded to Block 30 configuration with the last such aircraft to be delivered in FY 2000. B-2 and B-52 bombers can be used for either nuclear or conventional missions. The B-1 force is dedicated to, and is in the process of being equipped exclusively for, conventional operations.

Readiness

Selected elements of U.S. strategic forces maintain the highest state of readiness to perform their strategic deterrence mission. A credible and effective nuclear deterrent requires proper support for all of its components: attack platforms, other weapons systems, command and control elements, the nuclear weapons stockpile, research and development capabilities, the supporting industrial base, and well trained, highly motivated people.

U.S. ICBMs and SLBMs on day-to-day alert are not targeted against any specific country. The missiles, however, can be assigned targets on short notice. The United States maintains two full crews for each SSBN, with about two-thirds of operational SSBNs routinely at sea. On average, about one to two U.S. SSBNs are undergoing long-term overhauls at any given time and are not available for immediate use. All 550 ICBMs, with the exception of a few undergoing routine maintenance, are maintained on a continuous day-to-day alert. The bomber force is no longer maintained on day-to-day alert, although it can be returned to alert status within a few days if necessary.

Funding and Modernization

Funding for strategic nuclear forces—ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear bombers—has declined in recent years, as has the fraction of the total defense budget that is devoted to nuclear forces. Past and projected funding for strategic nuclear forces are highlighted in the accompanying charts.

A few modernization programs for strategic forces are currently under way: B-2 modifications, primarily for conventional missions; D-5 missile procurement; and Minuteman III life extension activities. With most nuclear modernization efforts complete, programs to sustain nuclear forces and their readiness now account for most strategic nuclear funding.

MISSILE DEFENSES

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons and the missiles that can deliver them pose a major threat to the security of the United States, its allies, and friendly nations. Over 20 countries possess or are developing NBC weapons, and more than 20 nations have theater ballistic missiles (TBMs) or cruise missiles to deliver them. Some of these countries are pursuing capabilities for much longer-range ballistic missiles. The U.S. missile defense program reflects the urgency of this immediate threat, both with its Theater Air and Missile Defense (TAMD) programs and its National Missile Defense (NMD) program to develop as quickly as possible a highly effective defense system against emerging rogue nation strategic ballistic missiles. Finally, the Department is continuing development of technology to improve ballistic and cruise missile defense systems.

Role of Missile Defense in U.S. Defense Strategy

The U.S. defense strategy for the 21st century seeks to shape the international security environment in ways favorable to U.S. interests, respond to the full spectrum of threats, and prepare for an uncertain future. Missile defense is a key component of this strategy. Missile defenses contribute to the reduction and prevention of missile proliferation and strengthen regional stability, both critical for shaping the international security environment. Theater missile defenses (TMD) are key to protection of deployed forces as they act in defense of U.S. national security interests. Additionally, the U.S. ability to provide missile defense protection to allies and friends, in conjunction with the extended deterrent from the U.S. nuclear umbrella, may contribute to mitigating the desire of many states to acquire NBC weapons and ballistic missiles.

At the same time, missile defenses are essential for responding to growing ballistic and cruise missile threats. The threat of missile use in regional conflicts has grown substantially. The potential combination of NBC weapons with theater-range missiles poses very serious challenges to U.S.-led coalition defense efforts in the event of a major theater war. Hostile states possessing theater missiles armed with NBC weapons may threaten or use these weapons in an attempt to deter or otherwise constrain U.S. power projection capability. Such threats could intimidate allies or friends and discourage them from seeking U.S. protection or participating in coalitions with the United States. Even small-scale theater missile threats, coupled with NBC weapons, dramatically raise the potential costs and risks of military operations. Effective theater missile defenses will ensure that the United States is prepared to confront regional instability or conflict successfully in such an environment.

Theater Air And Missile Defense Programs

In light of the widespread deployment of theater ballistic missiles today, the Department’s immediate missile defense priority is to develop, procure, and deploy TAMD systems to protect forward-deployed elements of the U.S. armed forces, as well as allies and friends. This plan envisions time-phased acquisition of a multitier, interoperable ballistic missile defense systems that provide defense in depth against theater ballistic and cruise missiles. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization share the responsibility for providing improved capability to defend against air and missile threats. The increased emphasis on interoperable air and missile defenses has led to a family of systems concept. A key aspect of the family of systems approach is to leverage the synergy between air, ballistic, and cruise missile defenses, and to integrate various systems in a comprehensive effort to defeat the threat. This concept calls for a flexible combination of integrated, interoperable TAMD systems capable of joint theater operations. It includes several individual weapon systems, various sensors, and advanced battle management/command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence capabilities.

Lower-tier systems remain the top priority to defeat short-range ballistic missiles. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and the Navy Area Defense systems are the key lower-tier systems for the TAMD mission. PAC-3 will provide air defense of ground combat forces and defense of high-value assets against high-performance, air-breathing, and theater ballistic missiles. The FY 2000 budget request calls for procurement of 32 PAC-3 missiles, with first unit equipped (FUE) projected for FY 2001. Consistent with congressional direction, the program will require two successful intercepts before proceeding to low-rate initial production.

The Navy Area Defense program, using a reconfigured SPY-1 phased-array radar and an upgraded version of the Standard Missile (Block IVA) on Aegis-equipped ships, will provide U.S. forces, allied forces, and areas of vital national interest at sea and in coastal regions with an active defense against theater ballistic and cruise missiles. Low-rate initial production of the Block IVA missiles will begin in FY 2000 in support of developmental and operational testing prior to planned FUE in FY 2003.

The FY 2000 budget provides $150 million over the next three years for development of technology related to the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a follow-on lower-tier program being pursued cooperatively with Germany and Italy. These efforts will focus on a fire control radar and mobile launcher as key components needed to meet a requirement for a highly mobile, rapidly deployable TMD system capable of providing 360-degree coverage for troop defense. This will allow the Department to explore less costly program options by taking advantage of existing missile development programs, such as PAC-3, and thereby conserve resources for higher priority TMD systems. The Department of Defense has kept its international partners apprised of the proposal to restructure the MEADS program and hopes they will join in this new approach.

Upper-tier systems—the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and the Navy Theater Wide program—are designed to intercept incoming missiles at high altitudes in order to defend larger areas, to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and to increase theater commanders’ effectiveness against weapons of mass destruction. THAAD will make possible more effective protection of broad areas, dispersed assets, and population centers against TBM attacks. The Navy Theater Wide system builds upon the existing Aegis Combat System as well as the Navy Area Defense system. Compared to last year’s budget request, funding for Navy Theater Wide has been increased by more than half a billion dollars in FY 1999-2001, including funds added by Congress last fall, so that this program can be pursued as a major defense acquisition program. In an effort to foster competition, the schedules for THAAD and Navy Theater Wide have been aligned, and FY 2002-2005 funding for Navy Theater Wide and the THAAD interceptor has been programmed in a combined upper-tier account. Extensive developmental testing for both THAAD and Navy Theater Wide is planned in 1999 to 2001. In the near term, THAAD will continue testing with missile components on hand, to be followed with more tests of newly fabricated missiles. Tests of the Aegis Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile will demonstrate the Navy Theater Wide system concept. Both Navy Theater Wide and THAAD will be examined after initial flight testing to determine system progress. Based on this assessment, the Department will be prepared to allocate upper-tier program resources to focus on the most successful program. To meet existing and emerging threats, the objective is to field an upper-tier system capability by 2007. Depending on the results of the review, the other system might continue to be developed, most likely at a slower pace.

As an additional layer of missile defense, the Airborne Laser (ABL) will destroy ballistic missiles during their boost phase of flight. By terminating powered flight early, ABL thus confronts an adversary with the prospect of having missile payloads possibly falling on an adversary’s own territory. ABL development is paced to accomplish a lethality demonstration against an in-flight ballistic missile in FY 2003.

Many of the capabilities needed for effective cruise missile defense (CMD) are either evolving from existing systems or are being developed from scratch. For example, air defense radars are being netted together under the Cooperative Engagement Capability while selected ballistic missile defense sensors; battle management/command, control, and communications; and weapons (including the PAC-3 and Navy Area lower-tier systems) are projected to provide capabilities against cruise missiles. A key objective of CMD efforts is to leverage the synergy between ballistic missile, cruise missile, and air defense, and to integrate various systems that contribute to CMD into a comprehensive system of systems to defeat this threat. Additionally, advanced technology programs for CMD focus on shooting down land attack cruise missiles at extended ranges, possibly over an adversary’s territory—adding depth to existing capability. To ensure the Department is positioned to capitalize on all these developments, joint employment concepts and an investment plan for TAMD, including CMD, are being developed through a collaborative process among the commanders in chief, the Services, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, and the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization.

COOPERATION WITH ALLIES, FRIENDS, AND STRATEGIC PARTNERS

As part of broader efforts to enhance the security of U.S., allied, and coalition forces against ballistic missile strikes and to complement U.S. counterproliferation strategy, the United States is exploring opportunities for theater ballistic missile defense cooperation with its allies and friends. The objectives of U.S. cooperative efforts are:

· To provide effective missile defense for U.S., allied, and friendly troops, and for allied and friendly civilian populations.

· To strengthen U.S. security relationships.

· To enhance collective deterrence of missile attacks.

· To share the burden of developing and fielding theater missile defenses.

· To enhance interoperability between U.S. forces and those of allies and friends.

The United States is taking an evolutionary and tailored approach to allied cooperation that accommodates varying national programs and plans, as well as special national capabilities. This approach includes bilateral and multilateral research and development, off-the-shelf purchases, and coproduction of TMD components or entire systems. Furthermore, as part of an ongoing initiative aimed at countering the TBM threat, the United States is sharing early warning data on launches of theater-range ballistic missiles with allies and friends as a means of engendering greater cooperation on theater missile defense.

In its 1991 New Strategic Concept, NATO recognized the risk posed by proliferation of WMD and ballistic missiles. Since then, the Alliance has reached general agreement on the framework for addressing this threat. The consensus is that layered theater ballistic missile defense is necessary for NATO’s deployed forces. For the past several years, DoD has also held discussions with Japan regarding cooperative research in support of developing a TMD capability, and Japan recently decided to participate in and provide funding for such cooperative research.

U.S. TMD cooperation with Russia is an excellent example of how cooperative approaches to dealing with new regional security challenges of mutual interest, such as the proliferation of ballistic missiles, can advance U.S. security objectives. The United States and Russia have conducted two TMD exercises and have agreed to a third, multiple-phase effort in 1999 and 2000. These exercises have provided a practical basis for U.S. and Russian forces to develop agreed procedures to conduct theater missile defense operations during regional contingencies where they could be deployed together, facing a common adversary that resorts to employment of theater ballistic missiles.

Additionally, at the September 1998 Summit, President Clinton and President Yeltsin announced a new U.S.-Russian initiative. The two countries have agreed to establish a jointly-manned center in Russia for the timely sharing of information on the launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles detected by each sides’ early warning systems. The United States and Russia will also establish a voluntary multinational system for prelaunch notification of planned missile launches. The initiatives are designed to minimize the risks associated with dangerous reactions to false warning of a missile attack.

U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs, including shared early warning on theater missile launches and the development of the Arrow TMD system, assist Tel Aviv in developing a ballistic missile defense capability to deter and, if necessary, defend against current and emerging ballistic missile threats in the region. Planned interoperability with U.S. theater missile defense systems could afford Israel a more robust defense. Moreover, the program provides technical benefits for both sides by expanding the theater missile defense technology base and providing risk mitigation for U.S. weapon systems.

NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM

The submission of the FY 2000 budget request marks a major change in the Administration’s funding commitment to National Missile Defense. The addition of $6.6 billion in new funding brings total FY 1999-2005 resources for NMD to $10.5 billion, of which $9.5 billion is allocated in FY 2000-2005. The added funds include those that would be required through FY 2005 to deploy an NMD system. No decision for deployment has been made. However, a decision regarding deployment is planned for June 2000 that will be based primarily on the maturity of the technology as demonstrated by progress in development and testing.

The NMD program has been geared for some time to the possibility that a rogue nation could—perhaps sooner than intelligence has projected—come to possess intercontinental ballistic missiles that could threaten the United States. This possibility was underscored by the August 1998 North Korean attempt to launch a satellite on a Taepo Dong-1 (TD-1) missile. The test demonstrated that North Korea continues to be interested in developing long-range missile capabilities and that it has made considerable progress. That launch demonstrated some important aspects of ICBM development, most notably multiple-stage separation. While the intelligence community expected a TD-1 launch for some time, it did not anticipate that the missile would have a third stage or that it would be used to attempt to place a satellite in orbit.

The intelligence community’s current view is that North Korea would need to resolve problems with the third stage prior to being able to use the three-stage configuration as a ballistic missile to deliver small payloads to intercontinental ranges (that is, ranges in excess of 5,500 kilometers). Nonetheless, a three-stage variant of the TD-1, if successfully developed and deployed, could pose a threat to portions of the United States sooner than estimated previously. The TD-1 launch demonstrates the very type of potential near-term threat that led the Administration to propose the NMD deployment readiness program in 1996.

The NMD system being developed would have as its primary mission defense of the United States—all 50 states—against a small number of intercontinental ballistic missiles launched by a rogue nation. Such a system would also provide some capability against a small accidental or unauthorized launch of strategic ballistic missiles from China or Russia. It would not be capable of defending against a large-scale, deliberate attack.

Of the $6.6 billion in new funds programmed for NMD, $800 million will be provided from the FY 1999 Emergency Supplemental for Ballistic Missile Defense. These funds permit additional risk-reduction efforts, as well as activities needed to ensure a smooth transition to deployment should a decision be made in FY 2000 to begin deploying the system. Previous plans for testing NMD components and the system prior to the deployment decision remain unchanged. In June 1999, the performance of the exoatmospheric kill vehicle will be demonstrated in the first NMD intercept attempt. Subsequent tests, to be conducted before the June 2000 decision point, will further evaluate the system’s performance, culminating in an end-to-end systems test in the second quarter of FY 2000. The FY 2000 request includes no procurement funding associated with deployment. The funds added to the NMD program in FY 2001-2005 support a deployment in FY 2005.

To maximize the probability of programmatic success and be able to deploy a technologically capable system as quickly as possible, key decisions will be phased to occur after critical integrated flight tests. As a result, instead of projecting a deployment date of 2003 with exceedingly high risk, the Department now projects a deployment date of 2005 with much more manageable risk. If testing goes flawlessly, the system might be ready for deployment sooner. But independent analysts have expressed concern that DoD’s fast-paced schedules for ballistic missile defense programs represent a rush to failure. Given the reality of the threat, the NMD program cannot afford to fail. The approach the Department has adopted is the optimal one to provide a capable NMD system as soon as possible.

The NMD development program will continue to be conducted in compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. NMD deployment may require modifications of the treaty, and the Administration is working to determine the nature and scope of these modifications. Environmental surveys for potential basing sites in both Alaska and North Dakota have begun, and Russian officials have been briefed on these activities. If deployment requires an amendment to the treaty, the United States will negotiate with the Russians in good faith.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Activities in the missile defense technology base are key to countering future, more difficult threats. The technology base program underpins the theater ballistic missile defense, cruise missile defense, and National Missile Defense programs. It allows DoD to provide block upgrades to baseline systems, to perform technology demonstrations, to reduce program risk, to accelerate the insertion of new technologies, and to develop advanced technologies to provide a hedge against future surprises. Advanced technologies are also being exploited to reduce the cost of future missile defense systems.

CONCLUSION

Strategic forces remain a critical element of the U.S. policy of deterrence. Although U.S. nuclear forces have been reduced substantially in size and the percentage of the defense budget devoted to them has been greatly reduced as well, strategic forces continue to provide a credible and a highly valuable deterrent. The United States remains committed to appropriate and jointly agreed upon reductions in strategic nuclear forces, but will protect options to maintain its strategic capabilities at START I levels until the START II Treaty has entered into force. The Administration is also committed to protecting the United States, its forces abroad, and its friends and allies from the effects of chemical and biological weapons and the missiles that can deliver them. The United States has a comprehensive strategy for countering such threats. The structure of the theater and national missile defense programs meets present and projected future missile threats, provides the best technology to meet these threats, and is fiscally prudent.

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