Can UK afford Trident?

"Trident is likely to take up between a third and a half of the entire defence procurement budget for the 2020s"
Independent Newspaper 23 January 2016

A Time-line of rising costs of Trident

November 2014. In an article written for the authoritative journal The Naval Review Commander Robert Green RN quotes from the Global Security Newswire, 1 May 2013  "US officials have suggested that the UK government consider abandoning replacement, because "either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else, or a real military partner".

The 2015 Strategic Defence & Security Riew (SDSR) estimates that the Dreadnought submarine programme will be £31Bn. A contingecny of £10Bn has since been added and is being eaten into all the time. To this you have to add £5Bn approx for the  disposal of the present 4 submarines and about £3Bn/year for what is expected to be the system's 30 year lifetime. The submarine operating base at Faslane will also require additional facilities/improvements in the order of £10Bn and there is a war head replacement programme. The total cost is therefore conservatively estimated to be in the order of £150Bn. This cost falls to the naval budget wiuth a consequential and continuous reduction in Fleet size.

2015 Statement by Lord Hever to Defence Committee " In determining Fleet sizes no specific provision is made for the possible loss of ships on war fighting operations"

Defence Committee response: " This answer implies that the planning assumption is for zero per cent attrition..."

Comment: The sinking of just one or two ships or submarines, bearing in mind that a proportion will already be out of action for refit/repair, would be catastrophic. The lessons of WWII and military operations ever since are that numbers count. In 1977/78 Admiral Sir John (Sandy) Woodward, then serving as a Captain and Head of Naval Plans, wrote a paper in response to the Nott Defence Review which had proposed large cuts to the military to offset the forthcoming costs of Trident replacing the Polaris submarines. He recommended against Trident because he said it would threaten the future of the Royal Navy as a balanced useful force. It is ironic that he became Task Force Commander to recover The Falklands - an action which put the Nott review in a bottom drawer pro tem. However, he has now been proved right. The Trident programme has tilted the UK towards being massively over dependent on nuclear weapons and incapable of mounting a robust defence of our own shores with existing conventional forces. Present MOD procurement policy for numbers of ships does not allow for any losses due to enemy action or major defects.

November 2015 In conversation with Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning BBC TV show, the Chief of Defence Staff (General Sir Nick Houghton) is asked if the UK could afford Trident and maintain sufficient conventional forces. CDS replies that we are in balance because of the contribution of NATO conventional forces.

May 2016 edition Warships International Fleet Review  Commander R Green asks the question "Is Trident a broken sword"?  

12 May 2016 Huffington Post Kate Hudson, General Secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamenr (CND) explains why costs of Trident have now reached £205Bn in an ar

7 June 2016 Admirals Lord West and Mark Stanhope (both former 1st Sea Lords) tell the the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee that delays to the ordering of the Type 26 Frigates and other suport problems means that the navy cannot meet all its peace time operational commitments - so what hope is there in being able to do so in a war situation?

September 2018 British American Security Council  identifies the spiraling costs of the Dreadnought Programme in their authorative report Blowing up the Budget and concludes that further cuts to Conventional Forces will be needed or a complete rethink on the nuclear deterrent.

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development & Foreign Policy (2020). My submission to this Government inquiry summarises reasons for UK to cancel the Dreadnought programme and proposes how this could be done in such a way to minimise financial loss while also adding strength to our conventional naval forces.

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