The U.S Is Ditching Its Sea-Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile Plans – And The Reason Is Ominous


The Pentagon has decided to put an end to its project to develop a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile or SLCM-N, according to a 2022 Nuclear Posture Review fact sheet released last week then later confirmed by a top defense official. The United States will now go after a more ‘flexible’ and ‘modern’ nuclear trajectory to combat a strategic attack.

The defense official stated that “Our deterrence posture is firm. Russia’s been deterred from attacking NATO. We continue to focus on Russia and China. I think as it stands right now, there is no need to develop SLCM,” said the official.

“The 2018 NPR introduced SLCM-N and the W76-2 to supplement the existing nuclear program of record in order to strengthen deterrence of limited nuclear use in a regional conflict,” reads the Nuclear Posture Review. “We reassessed the rationale for these capabilities and concluded that the W76-2 currently provides an important means to deter limited nuclear use.”

We still don’t know how many W76-2s were completed or how many are deployed on the Trident D5s that are loaded on the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines at a time. The deployment of W76-2 was first reported in 2019. The Director of the Nuclear Information Project Hans Kristensen wrote for the Federation of American Scientists in 2020 about what a W76-2 deployment appear like.

“We estimate that one or two of the 20 missiles on the USS Tennessee and subsequent subs will be armed with the W76-2, either singly or carrying multiple warheads. Each W76-2 is estimated to have an explosive yield of about five kilotons,” read the Federation of American Scientists article. “The remaining 18 missiles on each submarine like the Tennessee carry either the 90-kiloton W76-1 or the 455-kiloton W88. Each missile can carry up to eight warheads under current loading configurations.”

President Biden actively discouraged the development and deployment of new low-yield nuclear weapons and directly spoke against the W76-2. This year has come up with a total full stop on the mission.

SLCM-N was first introduced during this year’s drafting process for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. There are still people who wish to continue with the progress made so far. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley is among those who still aim to give SLCM-N a chance.

There is still some hope for those who are not done with SLCM-N yet. If, in the mid-term elections this November, Milley’s opinion is supported by other top generals, the program might stay.

However, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, “We determined, as we looked at our inventory, that we did not need that capability. We have a lot of capability in our nuclear inventory.”


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