The United States will upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the Sentinel intercontinental missile

The United States will upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the Sentinel intercontinental missile
The United States will upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the Sentinel intercontinental missile
11 April, 09:13ArmyPhoto: Соцсети
The US military plans to start testing its new Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile next year, start deploying it in 2029, and finish it in 2036.

Alexander Sychev

The meaning that the Pentagon put into this name was revealed by US Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “For decades,” he said in a press release, “American servicemen have been on watch, always alert and ready to go into battle. This name will serve as a reminder to those who will operate, guard and maintain the system in the future, of discipline and responsibility and of their duty."

The Northrop Grumman Corporation, which received an order for development in 2020, is working on the creation of the Guardian. It is planned to spend more than $13 billion on research and development until 2025. In general, the entire program for the development, testing and production of a new silo-based ballistic missile, according to preliminary estimates, will cost the US budget about $95 billion. Last year, this figure was ten billion less.

So far, nothing is known about the characteristics of the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM, which is natural - a strategic weapon and it is impossible to give opponents, including, first of all, Russia and China, the opportunity to prepare a response. Today it can be assumed that in terms of dimensions it is almost identical to the LGM-30G Minuteman III (translated as “Militia”), because it will not only take the place of this ICBM in the American nuclear triad, but will literally stand in the same mines.

"Militia" was adopted in the 70s of the last century. Since then, Minuteman has been repeatedly upgraded: electronics have been improved, warheads have been replaced, and the composition of the fuel has been adjusted. The maximum flight range of the third, last modernization reaches 13 thousand kilometers. The M-21 warhead can accommodate three charges. In total, about 450 missiles are in service with the United States today. Everything is planned to be replaced by Guardians, since for some reason it is no longer possible to upgrade them.

At the same time, work will be carried out to modernize the mines themselves. But which representatives of the US Air Force are not disclosed.

Based on the overall similarity of the two ICBMs, we can conclude that the flight performance of the Sentinel is no worse than that of the Minuteman - the flight range will not be reduced. The US Air Force also evasively said that the missile would become more accurate, safe for personnel and reliable. How many warheads it can carry is not reported. But it is known that the first batch of missiles will receive a W-87-0 thermonuclear charge, and from 2030 the Guard will be armed with W-87-1 charges.

It is obvious that both options are modifications of what was used in the 1980s to equip warheads on heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles LGM-118 Peacekeeper ("Peacemaker"), discontinued from production and armament under the START-2 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. There were only 50 such missiles, and when they were launched for peaceful purposes, they were used to launch satellites into space, the W-87 thermonuclear charges moved to the Minuteman III. The power of each such charge reaches 475 kilotons.

The new missiles will be provided to the 20th Air Force and deployed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Malmstrom in Montana and Minot in New Jersey. They will stay there for the entire period of their service - until the 70s of this century.

The complete replacement of the Minuteman III arsenal is being carried out in accordance with the modernization program for the entire United States nuclear triad. For its implementation, it is planned to spend, according to estimates at the moment, more than 1.2 trillion dollars.

In accordance with this program, Northrop Grumman Corporation is working on a new B-21 strategic bomber and, as reported, has already begun testing the first prototype and is completing the second one.

There are no plans to replace sea-based ICBMs yet, but with the set of charges installed on the Trident II, new low-yield W-76-2 charges have appeared. Their power reaches 5-6 kilotons. Why is this done? Washington considered that low-yield charges give some advantage. The logic is very strange. Under the influence of the military, American politicians believed that the world would easily survive a small atomic explosion, but Washington would have a colossal deterrent effect. 18 kilotons were dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, and 20 kilotons on Nagasaki three days later. Mankind survived, Japan immediately surrendered. No one will notice the explosion of the W-76-2 charge at all, except for the country in whose territory it happens.

Such is the logic of the Washington strategists. It is amazing that they do not notice or do not want to see the catastrophic fallacy of their reasoning. The matter will not be limited to a local explosion or even a couple. Japan had no answer. In modern conditions, the answer will follow immediately. The danger of low-yield charges, especially when their presence is justified by strange conclusions, greatly lowers the threshold for the admissibility of using nuclear weapons. The chance of unleashing a global thermonuclear conflict is increasing.

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