Saturday 25 June 2022 - 09:23

US military grants UK’s BAE Systems $12bn ICBM contract

Story Code : 1001043
US military grants UK’s BAE Systems $12bn ICBM contract

The work related to the huge contract is expected to be completed by the end of 2040 and will mostly be carried out at the Hill Air Force Base in the western state of Utah, the Pentagon announced on Friday without elaborating, Reuters reported.

According to the report, BAE was one of five military contractors bidding for the long-range missile contract.

The report comes nearly three months after the Biden administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2023 – released on March 28 – called for massive investments in nuclear weapons, including the so-called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) — an intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Critics and anti-nuclear activists said at the time that President Joe Biden is using the Russian military operation in neighboring Ukraine to justify the heavy spending on nukes by claiming the need for deterrence.

The GBSD, the critics argued, was in motion well before Biden’s 2023 budget proposal, and well before Russia began its military operation in Ukraine, emphasizing that the conflict is being used to engineer justification for a policy that the American president would have already enacted.

According to a Pentagon’s summary of the budget proposal, it calls for $34.4 billion to “recapitalize all three legs of the nuclear triad” -- a reference to submarines, bombers and land-based intercontinental missiles, which comprise the US military’s nuclear weapons program.

The GBSD would ensure that these missiles remain deployed in American states for another 50 years, local press outlets reported, amid long-standing argument by anti-nuclear activists in the US that rather than being reconstituted, the ICBM system should be dismantled to reduce the global threat of nuclear escalation.

The budget also calls for $3.6 billion for the GBSD which will replace the aging Minuteman III ICBMs that are located in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. Additionally, the budget would call for further investments in launch facilities and control centers, test-launch missiles and other infrastructure.

However, this is not the only nuclear spending proposed, according to reports, which further revealed that the budget also calls for an additional $16.5 billion for nuclear weapons under the Department of Energy, which brings the total proposed nuclear weapons spending to $50.9 billion.

The United States and Russia account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The proposed US investments in nuclear weapons come on top of high budget lines for military spending and law enforcement. Overall, the Biden administration is requesting a whopping $813.3 billion in “national security” spending, an increase of $31 billion compared to the previous year.

The huge missile deal with BAE came just two days after the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee passed a proposal to further boost the country’s military budget by $37 billion on top of the record $773 billion proposed by Biden.

The vote on Wednesday paved the way for a Pentagon budget of at least $810 billion next year after the Senate Armed Services Committee already backed a $45 billion increase in its version of the legislation.

Biden requested a record peacetime national defense budget of $813 billion which earmarked $773 billion for the Pentagon. Nearly $40 billion of Biden's national defense budget is set aside for other “national security”-related programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Energy and other agencies.

Last year, the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) authorized $778 billion in military spending, which was $25 billion more than requested by Biden.

The US's spending on the mass-destructive weapons would “reach $1.2 trillion in 2017 dollars” by the time of its completion in 2046, according to a July 9, 2020 report by the New York-based Columbia University’s Center for Nuclear Studies that also pointed to Emphasizing that there has been a “constant push” to change and modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal, the report said, “Trillions of (today’s) dollars of government funding were poured over decades into projects ranging from the development of new weapon types to pioneering delivery systems.”

Citing a 2017 report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on current US “nuclear modernization plans and their associated costs,” it added, “After analyzing current and proposed plans through 2046, the year when the majority of ongoing modernization projects are set to be finished, … the thirty-year total cost would reach $1.2 trillion in 2017 dollars—$800 billion to “incrementally upgrade” the nation’s nuclear forces and $400 billion for direct modernization plans.”

According to the report, “the US currently retains 400 Minuteman III ICBMs spread over Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, with each missile expected to remain operational through 2030 following a multi-billion dollar service life extension.”

“The Air Force has sought to replace the Minuteman III class ICBs with more than 600 missiles purchased through the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program (GBSD) -- which is intended to last through at least 2070,” it added.