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Trump and Trident

Summary:
I really really hate to defend Donald Trump, but there is something I don’t get about this story “Trump Said to Have Revealed Nuclear Submarine Secrets to Australian Businessman.” Actually more than one thing, I don’t understand why it isn’t the number one story filling page A1 above the fold like the Anthony Weiner’s laptop has a backup of Huma Abedine’s e-mail story (which it turns out involved no US secrets revealed or endangered IIRC). This is clearly a much bigger deal — undoubtably a felony as the law bans sharing nuclear secrets (they are not just classified according to an executive order which Trump could overule back when he was President). It is clearly a huge story. However, I don’t think one aspect is quite as huge as is widely

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I really really hate to defend Donald Trump, but there is something I don’t get about this story

“Trump Said to Have Revealed Nuclear Submarine Secrets to Australian Businessman.” Actually more than one thing, I don’t understand why it isn’t the number one story filling page A1 above the fold like the Anthony Weiner’s laptop has a backup of Huma Abedine’s e-mail story (which it turns out involved no US secrets revealed or endangered IIRC). This is clearly a much bigger deal — undoubtably a felony as the law bans sharing nuclear secrets (they are not just classified according to an executive order which Trump could overule back when he was President).

It is clearly a huge story. However, I don’t think one aspect is quite as huge as is widely asserted “During his talk with Mr. Pratt, Mr. Trump revealed at least two pieces of critical information about the U.S. submarines’ tactical capacities, according to the people familiar with the matter. Those included how many nuclear warheads the vessels carried” huh. I thought I knew that (I guessed 240 — I guessed wrong, but I know that now). Much more importantly, Trump also revealed the really secret “how close they could get to their Russian counterparts without being detected.” The man belongs in prison.

OK so my (out of date and wrong) calculation was 10 warheads per missile times 24 missiles per submarine. In fact, the number of deployed warheads has been reduced as required by the START II treaty (my nuclear weapons info dates back to the 80s — I lost interest during the non cold war period which now seems to have ended).

Oddly I find this in the Google preview but not when I click the link

Trump and Trident

There are 14 Ohio class ballistic missile submarines (I also just learned that 4 Ohio class nuclear submarines are cruise missile submarines not ballistic missile submarines — I had a lot to learn this morning).

Each can indeed carry 24 missiles

“Trident II missiles are carried by 14 US Ohio and 4 British Vanguard-class submarines, with 24 missiles on each Ohio class and 16 missiles on each Vanguard class (the number of missiles on Ohio-class submarines will be reduced to 20 each starting in 2023,”

It seems to me that 5 minutes of Googling gave me the allegedly super ultra top secret information revealed by Trump.

I guess the last thing is how many warheads can they carry. It is (24)(14) = 336 warheads

“In US service Trident II can be loaded with up to eight Mk-5 RVs with 475-kt W88 warheads, up to fourteen Mk-4A RVs with 90-kt W76-1 warheads, and up to fourteen Mk-4A RVs with 5–7-kt W76-2 warheads. In practice, each missile on average carries four warheads due to the warhead limitations placed by the New START treaty.”

So what secret did Trump reveal (aside from the critical “how close they could get to their Russian counterparts without being detected.”)?

Robert Waldmann
Robert J. Waldmann is a Professor of Economics at Univeristy of Rome “Tor Vergata” and received his PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Robert runs his personal blog and is an active contributor to Angrybear.

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