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  • U.K. Trident Renewal: Maintaining West's Nuclear Parity With China
    Posted by Robert Wall 9:03 AM on May 19, 2011

    The British government yesterday took the first policy decision to modernize its nuclear deterrent and sustain the submarine-based military capability until 2060 by approving the early design activity to replace the Vanguard Class submarines that can fire the Trident II D5 missile.

    blog post photo
    (Photo: Trident II D5 SLBM/Crown Copyright)

    Despite some opposition in the country to the program, in part over the cost of the project, it was always likely the U.K. would sustain its nuclear deterrent.

    The issue has strategic importance beyond the U.K., though. Given the way the global nuclear power structure is lining up, the move nominally assures NATO maintains parity with China in terms of nuclear powers in their respective spheres of influence, with the U.S., U.K. and France on one side and China, North Korea and Pakistan on the other.

    The extent to which there is any direct linkage between the parties is debatable, and there are obvious differences in the quality and quantity of the arsenals, but the alignment does offer a slightly different way to look at the nuclear strategic power balance in the 21st Century.

    As to the U.K. effort, what actually transpired is Defense Secretary Liam Fox has given the "initial gate" go ahead, paving the way for a "main gate" decision to properly launch the program in 2016. The goal is to field the first new submarine in 2028 at a cost of ₤11 billion to ₤14 billion.

    Tags: ar99, Trident, UK

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