The Pentagon has “fielded,” meaning made ready for use, a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile that carries a low-yield nuclear warhead, The National Interest reports.
The W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile has been fielded, according to Pentagon officials, as part of a new initiative to revamp the United States’ nuclear deterrence efforts. Although the weapon is described as “low-yield,” according to experts, “there is no formal definition of what is low yield and what is not. It is a term of art used in arms control but we have not set a limit.”
The National Interest defense editor Kris Osborn notes that “This low-yield nuclear missile option does appear to add something not currently present in the U.S. arsenal. While the emerging B-21 will be configured to fire lower-yield, more precise B61 Mod 12 weapons, a submarine-launched nuclear weapon brings newer avenues of attack and long-range strike without having to operate air assets over or near heavily defended areas. The F-35 is also being engineered to carry nuclear weapons.”