The Pentagon should not have rushed to hand out more than $1 billion in contracts to modernize U.S. nuclear missiles before the Donald Trump administration completes the Nuclear Posture Review it started in January, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Sunday.
“We should not be doubling down on these legacy nuclear modernization plans — plans that could undermine strategic stability and fuel another arms race — without first deciding which Pentagon programs would be most effective in keeping us safe,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement posted to the committee’s website.
The Defense Department on Aug. 21 awarded Boeing [BA] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] three-year contracts worth some $349 million and $328 million, respectively, to mature technology and reduce risks for a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missile: the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent.
On Aug. 23, Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Raytheon [RTN] received contracts to mature designs for the Long-Range Standoff Weapon: a replacement for the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear-armed Air-Launched Cruise Missile. The contracts are each worth roughly $900 million over 54 months.
“We are rushing on autopilot to fund these programs,” Smith said Sunday. “At a time when we face threats like those emanating from North Korea, we have serious unmet needs for theater missile defenses that work, cutting-edge cyber capabilities, and conventional weapons that will respond directly to the military challenges we are facing right now.”
The Trump administration expects to finish its Nuclear Posture Review by the end of the year, setting U.S. nuclear arms policy for up to a decade. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, authorized the Pentagon’s current nuclear modernization efforts.