Archive for September, 2009

One less SSBN cruising the high seas

During a speech the UN today – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed taking one of the four UK Trident ballistic missile nuclear submarines out of service to jump start Nuclear Non-proliferation talks.

Will this change the UK deterrent posture? Probably not. The normal cycle – is one on active patrol, one just coming back from patrol, and two in workups ready to go out on patrol. So instead of two in workups – there would be only one in workups.

It makes sense from a budgetary standpoint – one less submarine (and crew) to have to maintain (i.e. pay for). And in that the Trident’s on both sides of the Atlantic (American and British) are nearing their end of life (the first US Ohio class is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2029, and the design studies for the next generation SSBN have already begun) – reducing the requirement for the follow-on class will reduce the money required for that project.

[It is possible that this has been something that has been under consideration since earlier this year – when HMS Vanguard was involved in an ‘incident’ with a French SSBN. It is possible that the damage from that ‘incident’ along with the current economic crisis has just made the decision to reduce the force – more politically viable]

What is disconcerting about this – is that with only one boat on patrol – and one boat close to patrol – the UK deterrent force is vulnerable.

But let’s be clear. Today’s announcement really doesn’t change the vulnerability in any way. It just may be the first step in its elimination at the hands of a future government.

 

Air Force shoots down its own Reaper

According to reports over on Ares (Aviation Week’s blog site) – the US Air Force had to shoot down one of their own Reaper’s – after communication/control over the UAV was lost and it was about to leave Afghan airspace.

I wonder whose airspace it was about to violate – when they took it out?