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Pentagon mulling new submarine- or surface-based nuclear cruise missile

20 March 2018

The Pentagon is mulling either a new submarine- or surface ship-based nuclear cruise missile and low-yield nuclear ballistic missiles in response to Russian and Chinese capabilities, according to the top US nuclear officer.

The US Navy formerly had a nuclear-armed submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), the nuclear Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, but this was retired by the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. In the latest 2018 review, the Pentagon said it will “immediately begin efforts to restore this capability by initiating a capability study leading to an Analysis of Alternatives” to rapidly develop a modern SLCM.

“The threat is from both Russia and China that drives the need for the sea-launched cruise missile,” General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 20 March.

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