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European Tribune - Why Great Britain needs Trident
The question is not if Great Britain needs a replacement for Trident, but if the nation can resign itself not to be Great Britain anymore, instead declining to just plain Britain.
You're assuming Britain has an "independent nuclear deterrent" even if it is purchased from the US. Allegedly the UK cannot use its nukes without US authorisation so the question is not whether the UK wants to be a Great Power but whether they want to be a launchpad for another Great Power (namely, the US).

While writing this comment I made a funny typo: Great Poser.

Anyway, I found this at prospect magazine

There is a lot of confusion about the question of independence. British Trident subs are operationally independent--we do not have to ask American permission to use the missiles it has sold us. What is not independent is the satellite guidance system, which was designed to take out Soviet missile silos. If the US switched it off, this pinpoint accuracy would be lost. But Trident's basic guidance system--which is not dependent on the US--is already accurate to within a few hundred yards. Britain has no need to hit silos; we just need to convince enemies that we can destroy them if they attack us.
This from New Statesman
So, what about independence of operation? Could Britain fire Trident if the US objected? In 1962 the then US defence secretary, Robert McNamara, said that the British nuclear bomber force did not operate independently. Writing in 1980, Air Vice-Marshal Stewart Menaul said it definitely could not be used without US authorisation. Today former naval officers say it would be extremely difficult. The many computer software programs, the fuse, the trigger, the guidance system as well as the missiles are all made in America.


The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:43:29 AM EST
Obviously it doesn't really matter where they're made.

What does matter is what 'authorisation' means. Does it mean official paperwork, an electronic lock, a US officer with a key and some codes, or a special giant Sudoku puzzle?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 06:23:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just want to go on the record as supporting the Sudoku puzzle.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

this is the proper question... is it worthy the millions to be a launchpad? seriously, being launchpad has its own prerogatives.. you can eventually, in case of a nazi Us, break the contract and get the technology..

but in this case, would the trident be helpful...????

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 05:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK's first attempts to develop an independent home-made nuclear deterrent were farcical. The safety in one of the UK's hydrogen bomb designs was a container full of large ball bearings. To arm the weapon before delivery, the ball bearings had to be let out through a hole in the bottom of the bomb into a pit.

Also:

Blue Peacock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One technical problem was that buried objects--especially during winter--can get very cold, and it was possible the mine would not have worked after some days underground, due to the electronics being too cold to operate properly. Various methods to get around this were studied, such as wrapping the bombs in insulating blankets. One particularly remarkable proposal suggested that live chickens should be included in the mechanism. The chickens would be sealed inside the casing, with a supply of food and water; they would remain alive for a week or so, which was the expected maximum lifetime of the bomb in any case. The body heat given off by the chickens would, it seems, have been sufficient to keep all the relevant components at a working temperature. This proposal was sufficiently outlandish that it was taken as an April Fool's Day joke when the Blue Peacock file was declassified on April 1, 2004. Tom O'Leary, head of education and interpretation at the National Archives, replied to the media that, "It does seem like an April Fool but it most certainly is not. The Civil Service does not do jokes."

The Blue Streak MRBM took at least fifteen to thirty minutes to load and fire, which made it less than entirely convincing as a deterrent.  

So Polaris, with US rocketry and warheads modified and built in the UK, was a reasonable deal.

Trident was an obvious continuation. The reality is that the UK doesn't have the skills needed to design effective warheads and missiles without US help, and can't afford an independent design program.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 06:19:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Blue Streak  loading and aiming time, wasn't unreasonable at the time it was constructed. At the time of its design and construction, all nationalities Ballistic missiles had a similar laod and fire time from what I remember, it isn't till about 10 years later that Fast launches with solid fuel missiles cameinto use.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 06:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The reality is that the UK doesn't have the skills needed to design effective warheads and missiles without US help, and can't afford an independent design program.

If the US for some reason stopped supplying its closest ally and one believes the Brits are terminally incompetent in missile technology, Britain can certainly find another partner to help them. One need just look south of the Channel.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 06:52:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be politically inexpedient.

Buying stuff to blow shit up from the US is robust, manly and entirely to be admired. Buying it from the frogs would an appalling admission of erectile political failure.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 08:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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