CRS – U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 27, 2012

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues. Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy, February 22, 2012

  • “During discussions about the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, Congress reviewed and discussed the plans for maintaining and modernizing U.S. strategic nuclear forces. Although the United States plans to reduce the number of warheads deployed on its long-range missiles and bombers, consistent with the terms of the New START Treaty, it also plans to develop new delivery systems for deployment over the next 20-30 years. As a result, the 112th Congress will continue to review these programs during the annual authorization and appropriations process…At the present time, the U.S. land-based ballistic missile force (ICBMs) consists of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, each deployed with between one and three warheads; they will all be
    reduced to only one warhead over the next few years…The U.S. ballistic missile submarine fleet currently consists of 14 Trident submarines; each carries 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles…The U.S. fleet of heavy bombers includes 19 B-2 bombers and 94 B-52 bombers. The B-1
    bomber is no longer equipped for nuclear missions. The fleet will decline to around 60 aircraft in coming years, as the United States implements New START.”
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