May 16, 2018

PEACE THROUGH SUPERIOR FIREPOWER: Pivot With a Nuclear Edge: Low Yield in the South China Sea.

Much has been said of the Trump administration, but an area where it has stepped up to the plate is nuclear modernization. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) released in February 2018 provides answers for not only dealing with the Russian tactical nuclear imbalance but also the South China Sea A2/AD problem. As outlined in the NPR, the Trump administration aims to “expand tailored response options” by developing a low yield sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM), reminiscent of the now retired nuclear tomahawk missile (TLAM-N). In the short term, however, the intention is to modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads to significantly lower their yield. These will launch from the Ohio class ballistic missile submarines currently in service.

These tactical nuclear weapons deployed in the Pacific could be used to counter Chinese fortifications by effectively neutralizing the A2/AD capability with the appropriate yield. The thought of having to use any nuclear weapons is nothing to be taken lightly but so is the thought of a U.S. aircraft carrier being destroyed by multiple cruise missiles resulting in the loss of 5000 lives.


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