WASHINGTON, October 28. /TASS/. The United States has made a decision to retire its most powerful nuclear bomb and abandon plans of creating a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile, according to the US updated National Defense Strategy released by the Pentagon on Thursday.
"The B83-1 gravity bomb will be retired due to increasing limitations on its capabilities and rising maintenance costs. In the near-term, we will leverage [other] existing capabilities to hold at risk hard and deeply buried targets. DoD, working with its interagency partners and informed by existing concepts, will develop an enduring capability for improved defeat of such targets," the document reads.
The US Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced plans to dispose of the B83-1 thermonuclear bomb at least six years ago. Then-US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said at the time that the plans involved "the last megaton-class weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal." The B83-1 bomb has a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons. For the sake of comparison, the atomic bombs that the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the yields of about 15 and 25 kilotons, respectively.
The updated US National Defense Strategy also recognizes the Pentagon’s plans of creating the nuclear-armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N) as redundant. As the document highlights, "We concluded SLCM-N was no longer necessary" considering other nuclear armaments available or being developed in the country.
However, it remains to be seen how Congress will react to this decision, especially if the Republican opposition wins the upcoming midterm legislative elections in November. The incumbent US administration led by Democrat Joe Biden already signaled its intention to ditch the B83-1 bomb program.
Meanwhile, some US military commanders, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, earlier made public statements in favor of continuing these plans. On Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, when commenting on the plans of ditching the B83-1 bomb, said that the program’s cancellation sent no message to Russia about Washington’s weakness and that Moscow understood what the US nuclear capability was.