Mobile missiles back on drawing board, U.S. general says


April 9, 200

By Loring Wirbel

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. The Air Force team looking at strategic force modernization may consider an upgrade to the Minuteman III that returns to the concept of mobile missiles, the commander of Air Force Space Command said here Tuesday (April 8).

Air Force Gen. Lance Lord said that the Pentagon may look again at nuclear missiles not stored in silos, but which borrow some concepts of the original MX missile, which later evolved into the silo-based Peacekeeper.

The Nuclear Posture Review of 2001 moved away from the traditional triad view of strategic nuclear weapons based on bombers, land-based missiles and submarine-based missiles. The new U.S. strategy envisions a new triad that includes all strategic weapons (nuclear and conventional) as the first leg, defensive weapons as the second leg and infrastructure, including communications, as the third leg.

Since this new triad specifically links nuclear and conventional weapons, Lord said, it should not be surprising to see new missile concepts include both nuclear and conventional warheads.

It's unclear how existing arms control agreements with Russia would affect the plan. In the 1980s and 90s, the United States sought to limit deployment of mobile missiles by the former Soviet Union and Russia. The view then was that mobile missiles were inherently destabilizing.


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