The US Air Force has issued a press release today seeking proposals from military contractors to provide the next generation of nuclear weapons, including both ICBMs and air-launched nuclear cruise missiles, a pair of contracts that will cost well in excess of $60 billion.
Indeed, the Air Force estimate was that the new ICBMs alone would cost $62.3 billion, more than even most major countries spend on their entire military in a given year. The replacement for the AGM-86B cruise missiles did not come with an estimate, but is also expected to be substantial.
This comes amid growing debate about the “modernization” scheme, with one group of senators, including Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D – VA) demanding more or less unlimited spending, while a second group argues that the program needs to be dramatically scaled back, both because it is too expensive and because it is not in keeping with US talk of arms reduction.
Official estimates of the final costs of these schemes have also been called dramatic underestimates by several NGOs, with some studies suggesting that all told, the three-prong system is going to cost in excess of $1 trillion and take 30 years to complete.