The UK MOD and Foreign Affairs has published it’s stance on Nuclear deterrent. Interestingly it shows that allthough the UK is the NPT signatory with the smallest arsenal, it’s ordanance is still considerable at 160 warheads and delivery systems. It has decreased in size by 50% since the Cold War and decreased effectiveness by 75%. The UK is the only NPT signatory to have reduced itself to a single delivery system (namely the submarine), forgoing land based silo’s, ship based launchers and air launched weapons.
The paper explores why the UK needs a nuclear deterrent, presents rebuttals to commonly voiced objections and the history of the UK nuclear deterrent rationale.
The option reccommended is to stick with submarines, but as the current Vanguard class is reaching the end of it’s service life in 2020 and is looking unscaleable, the proposed solution is to replace the class with an entirely new class of conventionally powered submarine.
The UK wants one submarine continuously on patrol. In a fleet of submarines, at least one is always in the shipyard for a period of three / four years for refit and repairs. This means the UK requires a fleet of three or four submarines to be able to maintain a continuous patrol of one.
Astoundingly, this tiny fleet will be the entirety of the UK nuclear deterrent.
(warning: PDF link)