The end of U.S. Space Shuttle launches three years ago has boosted the cost of fuel for British nuclear missiles, the London Telegraph reports.
The price of the solid fuel used in Trident 2 D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles leaped by 80 percent in just one year, the newspaper said in a Tuesday report. The United Kingdom maintains 58 of the U.S.-supplied weapons under a 1982 bilateral defense pact.
Washington is now limiting its annual purchases of the weapons to the minimum necessary to keep the fuel market afloat, prompting concern among some officials, according to the Telegraph.
Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, warned last month that the absence of fuel demand from the Space Shuttle program is posing problems for an “already-fragile industry.”
The United Kingdom, though, said such concerns had not altered missile cooperation with Washington, or a pending plan to revamp the British nuclear force.
“The U.S. has supplied the U.K. with solid fuel-powered missiles for over 40 years with an excellent safety and reliability record. The U.K. also has a sufficient pool of Trident missiles to meet our needs for decades to come,” a British defense ministry spokeswoman said.
One agency insider, though, said the United States has yet to determine how it will ensure continued supplies of missile fuel.
The U.S. Navy wants NASA to purchase solid-fuel boosters for a next-generation rocket system, potentially stabilizing the market, the Telegraph reported. The U.S. space agency is slated to start work on the planned Space Launch System in 2017.
What We're Following See More »
A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."
"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.