The numbers of U.S. nuclear missiles, and deployed bombers, have continued to drop while Russia's have climbed, according to a new U.S. State Department report on strategic weapons.
The State Department every year releases a breakdown of the U.S. military's nuclear arsenal to comply with the New START treaty with Russia. Under the treaty, which was signed in 2010, the U.S. and Russia by 2018 must meet a limit of 700 deployed ballistic missiles and deployed heavy bombers; a limit of 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed missiles and bombers; and a limit of and 800 launchers.
As of Sept. 1, according to the report released in January, the U.S. military showed declines from the previous year in all three categories, while Russia showed increases:
- The U.S. has 794 deployed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, submarine-launched ICBMs and deployed heavy bombers, down from 809 the year before. Russia's inventory climbed to 528, up from 473.
- The U.S. has 1,642 warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and nuclear warheads for deployed bombers, down from 1,688. Russia also has 1,642, but that is up from 1,400.
- The U.S. has 912 deployed and non-deployed missile launchers, down from 1,015. Russia, meanwhile, has 911, up from 894.
The majority of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is assigned to the Air Force. Throughout 2014, the service has been demolishing deactivated launch facilities to comply with the treaty. In August, crews with the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, completed the demolition of 50 Minuteman III launch facilities. Russian inspectors verified that the launchers were demolished.
"At this milestone we remove 50 launchers, bringing us closer to our maximum treaty authorization," said Lt. Col. Tom Wilcox, commander of the 341st Missile Wing, in a release. "Both of these missions [reconfiguring warheads and launcher removal] were long-term operations conducted by the ICBM force in a safe, secure and effective manner and required precision through all facets of execution."
The Air Force inventory in September, compared with 12 months earlier:
- 447 deployed ICBMs, down from 448.
- 307 nondeployed ICBMs, down from 313. That includes 56 of older, nonoperational Peacekeeper missiles, down from 57.
- 467 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, down from 557.
- Seven tests launchers, the same as the year before.
- 87 deployed B-2A Spirits and B-52H Stratofortresses, down from 101. In late 2013, the Air Force eliminated the last 12 of its 39 B-52Gs, a reduction that was required under the treaty.
- 22 nondeployed bombers, up from 21.
- Three test bombers, the same as the year before.
The Navy's nuclear arsenal is mostly unchanged: 260 deployed Trident II submarine-launched missiles in both 2014 and 2013; 151 nondeployed Trident IIs in 2014, up from 147; and 336 deployed and nondeployed missile launchers in both years.