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UK Defence Minister Problem. Cancelling Trident.

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  • UK Defence Minister Problem. Cancelling Trident.


    Slightly alternative reality, but the objective is pretty much inline with what was going on in the UK at that time. Any corrections is appreciated.

    It is 1980, James Callaghan's government loses the general election and Margaret Thatcher becomes the new Prime Minister... and in a bold move the new UK government has decided to cancel the purchase of Trident and use the money to instead beef up the conventional forces and maintain Polaris. The Vanguard class subs that were going to use Trident was projected to cost 1,500M each, so keep your proposals around the same costs, or less.

    1979 was a rough year in Europe, the SALT II agreement was signed in Vienna by President Jimmy Carter and General Secretary Brezhnev, but Carter refused to submit it before congress for ratification due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in Dec.
    US President Jimmy Carter urged the NATO countries to increase military spending by at least three per cent for greater interoperability.
    The SS-20 was rapidly deployed, and by Dec' 130 SS-20 missiles with 390 warheads had been deployed and most were targeting western Europe.
    NATO agreed to deploy 572 US Pershing II missiles and ground-launched Cruise missiles.
    The UK was looking at a possible recession, its second in four years, and inflation was high.

    So as the Defence Minister, what would you do to improve the three armed services, or would you focus on one branch?

    As a primer, here are a few things that were going on during 1980.

    HMS Invincible (R05) is due to be commissioned, two more carriers are in the process of being built. Does the RN need more ships, subs... is three aircraft carriers sufficient?

    The MBT-80 has been in development since 1978, and was going to incorporate Chobham armour. But the Iranian revolution in 1979 has forced many orders for weapons from the United Kingdom to be cancelled... threatening the prospects of the local industry in producing future MBTs. Does the army need expanding?

    SEPECAT Jaguar was in operation, and the Panavia Tornado was being delivered to the RAF, first deliveries began in 1979. Harrier is operational, and the Sea Harrier has just entered service. Does the RAF need a new strategic bomber, or expand its current fleet?

    Or is better to just maintain and upgrade the existing assets at your disposal? Do you want your armed services to be reliant on NATO/US support or one that can maintain a credible deterrent independently?
    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

    "We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened by trivialities."
    Bukowski

  • #2
    IIRC Polaris missiles were maintained at US facilities, and were being taken out of service by the US. Not going for Trident creates a whole pile of issues for the UK in maintaining a credible independent nuclear deterrent.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Aber View Post
      IIRC Polaris missiles were maintained at US facilities, and were being taken out of service by the US. Not going for Trident creates a whole pile of issues for the UK in maintaining a credible independent nuclear deterrent.
      But does it ?
      Are there not now more economical and diffuse ways of delivering thermo-nuclear weapons ?
      (I've nothing specific in mind ,just pondering).
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
        But does it ?
        Are there not now more economical and diffuse ways of delivering thermo-nuclear weapons ?
        (I've nothing specific in mind ,just pondering).
        It's not just the delivering of the nuclear warheads that's the issue. Keeping them safely out of the way from a debilitating first strike also helps to maintain a credible deterrent, and is there a better way to keep them safe than putting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JFKvsNixon View Post
          It's not just the delivering of the nuclear warheads that's the issue. Keeping them safely out of the way from a debilitating first strike also helps to maintain a credible deterrent, and is there a better way to keep them safe than putting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean?
          I totally agree. But in terms of cost/benefit analysis ,I wonder if it might be better to diffuse and disperse the nuclear deterrent in some way.
          "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
          Samuel Johnson.

          Comment


          • #6
            From what I'm reading, there is at least one boat on patrol, the RN has maintained this momentum since the late 1960s. But what about the other three? NATO was outmatched in the number of nuclear weapons pointed at them as early as 1975, and by '79 it was even worse with the deployment of the SS-20.

            The effects of having ground launched cruise missiles(based in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy) and the Pershing II, was a debilitating scenario the Soviets had to endure.
            "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
            Ernest Hemingway.

            "We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened by trivialities."
            Bukowski

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
              I totally agree. But in terms of cost/benefit analysis ,I wonder if it might be better to diffuse and disperse the nuclear deterrent in some way.
              It might, but there are not areas in the UK that are empty enough, or far enough away from international waters to give a reasonable time for a decision to launch on detection of a threat.

              For the UK submarine launched is the only sensible option.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                I totally agree. But in terms of cost/benefit analysis ,I wonder if it might be better to diffuse and disperse the nuclear deterrent in some way.
                Not with current technology. As Aber notes, you are very short on options. Land-based cruise missiles may be an option in the future, but not yet.

                Buying Trident is far cheaper than developing your own nuclear program, too.
                Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                  I totally agree. But in terms of cost/benefit analysis ,I wonder if it might be better to diffuse and disperse the nuclear deterrent in some way.
                  In a country the size of the UK it would be impossible to do that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JFKvsNixon View Post
                    In a country the size of the UK it would be impossible to do that.
                    That's assuming that any nuclear strikeforce would be based upon UK soil only.
                    Why not Cruise missiles dispersed upon surface vessels ?
                    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                    Samuel Johnson.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What in the heck is going on in the Admiralty?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Merkava188 View Post
                        What in the heck is going on in the Admiralty?
                        I'm just throwing in some ideas for a "what if" scenario, to see if withholding the upgrade to Trident II could bring, and benefits it gives the conventional forces with the extra finances.
                        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                        Ernest Hemingway.

                        "We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened by trivialities."
                        Bukowski

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                          That's assuming that any nuclear strikeforce would be based upon UK soil only.
                          Why not Cruise missiles dispersed upon surface vessels ?
                          Cruise missiles would take far too long to reach their targets, and they'd be vulnerable on those surface vessels as they made their way to a point where they could be fired at a target.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I doubt if the conventional forces will reap very much from delaying the Trident upgrades. The British military needs the built back up as much as the American military.

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