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UK confirms start of new nuclear warhead development program

Trident II
Royal Navy file photo of a Trident II test launch

Just days after US defense officials leaked information about the UK’s next-generation nuclear warhead, the country’s defense secretary Ben Wallace announced the start of the replacement program in Parliament.

As outlined by the secretary, UK’s Defence Nuclear Organisation is working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment to build the teams and put in place the facilities and capabilities needed to deliver the replacement warhead.

The confirmation comes after US military officials revealed to reporters earlier this month that the Pentagon’s W93 sea-launched warhead was set to share technology with the UK’s replacement warhead. This would mean that the two countries have already arranged to cooperate on their nuclear development programs.

“Our independent nuclear deterrent is essential to defend the UK and our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies against the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life,” Wallace said.

“To ensure the government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warhead to respond to future threats and the security environment. ”

It has also been noted that the UK would look to ensure the new warhead remains compatible with the Trident Strategic Weapon System.    

No time frame has been set for the eventual delivery of the replacement warhead. The secretary said the delivery would be subject to the government’s major program approvals and oversight. Pentagon officials said the US would aim to field its new warhead by 2040.