According to sections of the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy released on Thursday (October 27), the Biden administration is looking to scrap the U.S. military developing nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles.
The administration is attempting to move ahead with the strategy against the public recommendations of top Department of Defense officials.
The decision comes as part of the call to introduce better military deterrence against Russia and China.
Yet the document calls to reverse the development of a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) introduced by the Trump administration specifically against a Russia threat.
In its decision, the Biden administration called the development of SLCM-N “no longer necessary” because the U.S. has the “means to deter limited nuclear use.”
When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was questioned about the decision to scrap the project, Austin explained that there wasn’t a need for the submarine-launched cruise missile given the U.S. nuclear weapons inventory was already significant.
Addressing reporters at the Pentagon, 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.”
Austin also dismissed the idea that scrapping the project sent any message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, “He understands what our capability is, and … we’ll continue to move forward.”
The decision to scrap the project is unsurprising given the Navy’s 2023 fiscal budget request calling the research and development into the new SLCM-N “cost prohibitive and the acquisition schedule would have delivered capability late to need.”