AGM-86 ALCM missile mounted on a B-52 bomber (file photo)
The US Air Force has solicited industry proposals to build a new fleet of land-based nuclear missiles and also replace its air-launched nuclear cruise missiles in a bid to almost entirely rebuild the country's nuclear arms.
The Air Force  asked industry contractors on Friday to submit their proposals for a new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and further announced plans to award the first contracts by next summer, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
It intends to substitute the US military’s existing fleet of nearly 450 deployed Minuteman 3 ICBMs, beginning in 2027 with an estimated cost of $62.3 billion, added the report, citing the spokeswoman for the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Leah Bryant.
File photo of Titan II ICBM Site 571-7
Both projects, the report said, are part of a broader modernization plan for US nuclear weapons and are expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars over 30 years.
According to the report, the air force also solicited contractor proposals for a new-generation nuclear cruise missile to replace the existing AGM-86B cruise missile, which was deployed in the early 1980s.
The US Navy also intends to build new nuclear-missile submarines to replace its aging fleet of Ohio-class submarines, while the air force is planning to replace its B-52 bombers with a new fleet of nuclear-capable long-range bombers.
According to the director of the arms control association, Daryl Kimball, the extensive restructuring of American nuclear arsenal would be “financially unsustainable.”
"The air force could save billions by refurbishing and extending the life of the existing Minuteman 3 well beyond 2030 rather than building a completely new and more deadly missile," said Kimball.
"The air force does not need a costly new and more capable nuclear-armed cruise missile, especially if the new long-range penetrating bomber is truly penetrating. We are seeing a return to the days of nuclear excess and overkill," he added.