Thune Questions Nuclear Investment Plan

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) doesn’t think the more than $100 billion being set aside to sustain and modernize the nation’s nuclear delivery systems over the next decade will be enough. Commenting during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s June 17 hearing on the New START Treaty, Thune said about $30 billion will be needed just to acquire the Navy’s next-generation missile submarines. Defense planners also need to add $56 billion to sustain the existing strategic triad over that period. That leaves roughly $14 billion, which Thune said “is not nearly sufficient” to obtain new capability like the Air Force’s next-generation bomber, a follow-on ICBM, or a new air-launched cruise missile. In response, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told the panel, “I’m comfortable right now that the investment there certainly supports us moving ahead, and we’ll have to make adjustments over time based on where the triad goes specifically.”