April 18th, 2013

Trident Costs a Bomb


During the Cold War no one was keener on deterring the Soviet Union than Guido; Trident, Pershing and Cruise missiles meant that the Red Army stayed in Russia. That deployment and the threatened development of the Strategic Defense Initiative bankrupted the USSR and ran up the US deficit, prompting Ronald Reagan to quip that he didn’t worry about the deficit, it was “big enough to look after itself”.

Britain’s ageing sea-based Trident fleet is up for replacement and the price tag is expected to be £100 billion of borrowed money. With no super-power enemy threatening the defence of the realm this is an expensive bit of willy-waving in an age of austerity. Even conservative US military strategists question the logic of the UK spending a third of the defence budget on a Cold War era system at the expense of conventional forces. Trident will cost every man, woman and child in Britain £1,400 that will have to be borrowed.

The French manage to have a modest nuclear deterrent without paying the Yanks billions they can’t afford; the Force de Frappe and the Force Océanique Stratégique. Surely Britain can as well?

Britain is capable of building, without U.S. assistance, cruise-type missiles which can be air-launched and modifying Astute class attack submarines with sea-launched cruise missiles. This would have a number of advantages; it would be a truly independent deterrent unlike Trident (which is only in theory independent), it would cost a fraction of what it will cost to upgrade Trident and it would be entirely British built rather than an expensive import. Obviously this new, smart, fearsome combined all-British defence system would be a Highly Independent, Lethal Defence Arsenal – HILDA. She would go on and on defending Britain for the rest of the century…


  1. 1
    Ah! Monika says:

    Do it!!!

  2. 2
    Panem.et.circenses says:

    “Britain is capable of building, without U.S. assistance, cruise-type missiles which can be air-launched and modifying Astute class attack submarines with sea-launched cruise missiles”

    HA HA HA

    We cant even build an aircraft carrier that can carry aircraft

    But I agree Trident is a waste of time and money

  3. 3
    meh says:

    please enough with the Maggie stuff now. otherwise i agree with you 100%

  4. 4
    Harris Tottle says:

    Barry’s weird attitude to us Brits make this common sense.

  5. 5
    Please don't take the trough away says:

    Exactly, common sense.

    Fuck all chance of it happening then.

  6. 6
    Surrey Denizen says:

    Excellent idea Guido. Value, flexibility and adaptability.

    Too much of this Trident plan involves sending truckloads of money to decrepit northern towns to keep the pickerel locals in subsidy clover. Maggie would have no truck with this.

  7. 7
    Bob Crow says:

    If we are going to build our own cruise missiles, my members want triple time and 4 days off in lieu for everyone worked else EVEWYBODAAYYY ARGGHHT !

  8. 8
    Herman Van Aerial Disease says:

    We should stick two fingers up to Obama and give our own defence companies the contract to develop and build affordable deterrents.

  9. 9
    Count Dooku says:

    Where did you get the £100 Billion figure from? Current estimates are £20-30 Billion.

    The Astute subs which the Vanguard replacement will be based on cost £1.5 Bill a pop, I doubt we would be paying £90 Billion for missiles! This is without mentioning that cruise missiles are small, slow, have a limited range and are easy to shoot down. Not practical at all!

  10. 10
    Tuscan Tony says:


  11. 11
    GM says:

    I wonder if we could get a discount with our nuclear club card points? Interesting point about a home grown deterrant that is truly independent. If you fancy a chuckle then have a look at the UKIP defence proposals from 2011, specifically about UK subs and trident, I think they confuse themselves.

  12. 12
    Pedant patrol says:

    How can something be “highly independent”? Either it is or isn’t.

  13. 13
    Jorge Orwell says:

    So, who’s getting bribed by the US to buy this expensive toy, or will we be buying it due to our one way “special relationship” with the US?

  14. 14
    SomeoneElse says:

    Guido needs to read up a bit on our nuclear deterrent, its CHEAPER cos we share with the yanks (not just the costs, but the deployment)


    The logical follow through from this is that if the USN reduces its warhead force to the size suggested, then potentially it could jeopardise the short and long term sustainability and viability of the UK nuclear deterrent. Such a move will occur regardless of UK views and that in the medium term; the continued viability not only of the UK future SSBN programme, but more fundamentally the entire nuclear programme may be called into question. Unless the UK is willing to fund a greater share of the joint nuclear burden, it may well soon be approaching the point where time is called on Trident.

  15. 15
    DieUnionsDie says:

    The most sensible political post you’ve made yet. Trident will undo the Tory advantages on welfare, immigration and to a certain extent the economy (actually having a policy) in one fell swoop.

  16. 16
    Running Dog of Capitalism says:

    So, nothing to worry about with Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and who knows what other crazed state in future having the potential to deliver a nuclear threat to the UK? Phew, that’s a relief. However, do agree we shouldn’t depend on the Yanks who were (and still are) not prepared to back up the so-called “special relationship” with unequivocal support for the UK against Argentinian aggression.

  17. 17
    Anonymous says:

    After all Maggie would have got Nott to cancel it all, and then u-turn when it turned out it was needed after all.


  18. 18
    Ah! Monika says:


  19. 19
    Ah! Monika says:

    One man atop Everest?

  20. 20
    SomeoneElse says:

    look at the impact of defence cuts on the US budget and what this means for the UK.
    The current programmed set of defence cuts in the US currently stand at the entire UK defence budget each year for the next 10 years. This author knows many US military personnel who are very candid in their view that the times are rapidly changing, and that the US can no longer afford to be the sole superpower, and that a multi-polar world is an inevitability.

  21. 21
    oops says:

    we’d be subject to EU competition rules, so the Germans and French would probably get the contracts

  22. 22
    pissed up p*ki says:

    Ban the Bomb!

  23. 23
    never60 says:

    completely agree. it would be independent, affordable, a technology developer and an employment booster. then we would also be able to afford decent conventional arms.

  24. 24
    Ditto says:


    In any event, it might be an idea to get some independent auditors to go over every penny of that £100bn figure. It has the s strong whiff of having been plucked out of thin air.

    Mind you, if Cameron doesn’t spend 100bn on a replacement, he’ll only splurge what he’s ‘saved’ on foreign aid.

  25. 25
    Anonymous says:

    Forgive me for my ignorance, but my understanding is that cruise missiles are tactical weapons whereas Trident is strategic.

  26. 26

    HILDA over Trident does appear the best and most cost effective solution.

    Your statement “With no super-power enemy threatening the defence of the realm” dismisses Obama, Clinton and Kerry’s barely concealed abhorrence of all things British. US megalomania manifests itself in political, financial, knowledge based technology and commercial attacks and espionage.

    The coalition is right to pursue an independent deterrent, but we really do need one without any US interference as Obama has proved they cannot be trusted and are not our friends.

  27. 27
    Blind_leading_the_blind says:

    Somebody has bought shares in BAE Systems

  28. 28
    John Wellington Wells says:

    An independent British deterrent would be more Hilda Brackett than Thatcher.

  29. 29
    Purpleline says:

    Guidi, I believe under the non-proliferation treaty, we are allowed to continue with the current joint systems I.e. Trident but would not be allowed to develop new nuclear defence weapons.

    We would also never be allowed any territory to test the rocket, if sub launched or missiles from a plane.

    This is why the LibDems are pushing fr an alternative, they know it means the end of the UK in the Nuclear arms/ self defence area

  30. 30
    Sir Anthony Wedgewood Benn says:

    I would like to see Britain left completely defenceless so that it can continue to be Balkanised. Eventually, I will get my way and the red flag will fly over Downing Street. By the time you all notice, the walls will already have been built!! Mooohahahaha

  31. 31
    poison heals poison. says:

    trident was the weapon of choice for lord shiv.
    him who cannot be defeated.
    for protection from death and disease.


    we separate to reunite…so death fine.
    for quality control purpose best to fulfil the promise made by the purpose of life 1st.
    dis.ease seems a nuisance and costs a bomb.
    a pure focus on duti never did anyone any harm either.
    so 4 protection from harm …

  32. 32
    Grammarian says:

    Disagree. Depends on the context.

  33. 33
    OLD HOLBORN says:

    I didn’t mean it, sorry Liverpool :(

  34. 34
    LibDem says:

    If we just surrendered to the Islamists and North Korea simultaneously there would be no need for any Strategic weapons. We could save a fortune which could be invested in other things.

  35. 35
    Anonymous says:

    A very good point.

  36. 36
    Vacant Possession says:

    That sounds worrying like exceedingly good sense.

    I am up for developing the electronics & software.

  37. 37
    Ted Nugent says:

    Looking at virtually everything the MOD has commissioned it has been overly expensive, late and inadequate. And very often has never worked.

    So I suggest we build a simple and cheap device and stick it onto a cheap and reliable delivery system. Building new things will be a waste of money

  38. 38
    SomeoneElse says:

    Anon, you are correct. Guido and his commentards on this subject haven’t got the slightest clue. They need to do a bit of reading

  39. 39
    Wurzel says:

    We will have to re-Cristen Gee-Doh- Hilda!

  40. 40
    Lizzie says:

    Given the demonstrated incompetence of the MoD and the British defence industry in building anything to a budget, let alone something that actually works, would this really be feasible. after all, if Britain can’t build an aircraft carrier on its own, why would you expect it to be able to build a deterrence system? Remember the Bowman radio system? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-440791/Blunders-2-5bn-army-radio-system.html

  41. 41
    I Remember You Hoo says:

    I’m afraid Herman imagines we can control things like contracts, borders, laws etc. We gave those controls away years ago.

    FFS, if the Latvians or Bulgarians put in the best bid, we would be forced under EU law, to grant them the contracts.

  42. 42
    Purpleline says:

    We also currently develop independently the actual war-head in the UK

  43. 43
    Owen Jones says:

    The tax payer subsidises food in the House of Lords costing £60,000 a WEEK .

    Just saying.

  44. 44
    Brick the fuckers in says:

    I have a solution

  45. 45
    Pavlovs_Cat says:

    Just what l have been advocating for years. In addition to being home grown and cheaper nuclear tipped cruise missiles can be platform agnostic meaning they can be launched from submarines, aircraft or the back of a large trailer. Frankly your enemy does not know which crusise is conventional and which are nuclear thereby increasing the deterrent effect by hundreds of percent!

    Now, where’s my cheque!?!

  46. 46
    Anonymous says:

    How do you build the UK way. First you look abroad for what is around and spend years doing deals. These deals expect the supplier from abroad to keep to their plans. The projects take literally ages to put together, and the changes due to technology, and political ideas end up costing more than the original.

    Now look at SpaceX. This is a company started by the guy that made Paypal. It was started in 2002. It used the minimum of external suppliers, instead spending the time to design from scratch “simplistic” solutions based on the knowledge of the past proven technology. It basically controlled itself, instead of being controlled by suppliers.

    So 11 years later and 2 rocket designs done, multiple engine designs, and a contract to supply the space station, it is now going for its third rocket design that will lift a the equivalent of 4 London buses full of passengers into space.

    How is that possible in 11 years? Easy, it takes a leader that can see a future in an environment that wants, and rewards, a future.

    Not possible in the UK. We only buy other peoples cast offs.

  47. 47
    George Galloway says:

    I salute your courage, and your indefatigability!!!

  48. 48
    strategic tactical solution. says:

    the purpose of the strategic is to use a proxi.
    the purpose f the proxi is to be tactical.
    beyond the solutions is the issue. what is that.
    ..it appears that the root is the fear of not being special. balanced power deployed by the worthi may be the ansa.
    if nasa is the ansa what is the question?
    is the heart carried by the eagle based washington…is the indestructible soul that is trident based in london… are we headless chickens as we lack a purpose. t be strategic get roots … the purpose follows.

  49. 49
    What you DID the entire program? says:


  50. 50
    ... says:

    That’s right of course why didn’t we think of that …

    licking Colorado River toads is obviously the answer

  51. 51
    V1le, vicious Labour ruined my Country says:

    Cruise missiles can be shot down and are not as effective as people think. With the other strategic threats on the horizon we still need a last resort strike capability. Maybe if the benefit spongers were reigned in and the maximum per household was reduced to £10,000 then we could afford it.

  52. 52
    HenryV says:

    Mr Fawkes stick to the politics and expenses frauds. Everything you have just wrote is utter rubbish and displays a complete lack of understanding of nuclear deterrence and the technology involved.

    Go do some reading and come back in a year or three’s time and you may have just something worth reading.

    This is one of those rare occasions I am with those who think you should go back across the water to the land of potatoes and Guinness.

  53. 53
    strategic tactical solution. says:

    our Tone the Godfather.
    has he fathered a god?
    he is the godfather to the son of sun.
    is he the sun.
    he certainly will take us to the sun. that is what mystics do.
    there is life beyond the proxi that is the elements and the planets.
    that is where the soul, god and the life purpose.
    earth at the feet,
    wind in the tummi, below the navel.
    water is the urine.
    fire in the genital.
    planets ..sun is in the hand…just rub for warmth.

  54. 54
    Anonymous says:

    What do we need? Falklands!

    US use an Atoll for experimental flights.

    Launch system has to be generic.

  55. 55
    HenryV says:

    Very possible in the UK. I would suggest you go to http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/.

    They operate on a shoestring. 10 per cent of overseas aid budget would fund them for a decade.

    The EU, read the French, give them the occasional grant. I suspect once the technology is proven the EU, read the French, will go all out to steal it.

  56. 56
    Handycock (Teen Fondler) says:

    I could not agree with you more Anonymous and said so on BBC South Today last night.


    For all my young female fans the clip begins 6 Minutes and 35 seconds into the programme (just move the slider on the bottom along to this time to watch your idol), please do contain yourselves and do not get hysterical when you see me, once again at my handsome best on TV. Boaz.

  57. 57
    Admiral Leach says:

    There is a case for looking at this and a joint Anglo French cruise missile programme would be one way forward, we’d share costs, keep the nuclear deterrent independent (the warhead technology would be all ours). Both France and the UK would have a weapon to use from their subs and if need be from next generation strike drones. There was some talk of this back in the late 90s but never came to anything as the US UK link was felt to be a crucial political aspect of the Trident deal.

  58. 58
    Lord Dunraven says:

    Cruise missiles (which are theatre, not tactical, weapons) are unlikely to survive any half-competent air defence system (think subsonic, remotely-guided doodlebugs). The whole point about Trident (and its replacement) is that it has far greater reach than a cruise missile and (due to the use of MIRVs) is far harder to intercept.

    And there is one other small snag in the armchair thesis. It is highly doubtful that the UK would be able to build its own cruise missiles. The ones currently used by the Royal Navy all come from … the USA. The shorter range Storm Shadow used by the RAF is built in collaboration with those dependable allies, France and Italy. And even the longer-range navalized version currently under development would suffer from the same, inherent, vulnerabilities of any cruise missile.

  59. 59
    Steve Miliband says:

    It’s the MOD – we’ll end up with

    Gone Overdrawn Raising Debt On Nation

  60. 60
    Anonymous says:

    Of course we can build an aircraft carrier. It is not the build that is the problem.

    It is the ability to work with the “parts” bought in from abroad.

    The time to build and design is farther than the political horizon.

  61. 61
    Lord Dunraven says:

    I love your sense of irony, Herman. The British defence industry has a great track record of building affordable anythings …

  62. 62
    Hobo humping Solbo babe says:

    The problem with cruise missile based system is the range is limited and each missile can only engage 1 target. So achieve the same coverage as Trident with cruises missiles you would have more than 1 submarine permanently on patrol in the Indian ocean, the Norwegian sea and the eastern mediterranean. Also the submarines would have to be in range of land based ASW aircraft to launch, which means there is greater chance of failure to launch. It is also very much easier to shoot down a cruise missile travelling at 600 mph than a ballistic warhead travelling at 15000 mph. This means you have to fire multiple cruise missiles at the target to ensure destruction. To have the same capability as Trident using a cruise based system you have to build and man at least 9 submarines. It is not cheaper to build a cruise based system because its a lot less capable than Trident.

    Iran and North Korea are developing the capability of ICBMS. I do not want to live in country where Iran can hit us in 15 minutes but we a 3 week wait before we can fire back

  63. 63
    Bazinga! says:

    Simple. Any nation that threatens us tell them we will parachute in Kevin Maguire, George Galloway and Dennis Skinner, along with Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee.

    That should scare the siht out of anyone.

  64. 64
    I Beg to Differ says:

  65. 65
    Pawn Sandwich says:

    That is strictly against the Geneva Convention.

  66. 66
    Count Dooku says:

    Yup, Guido seems to be grossly misinformed in this case. I doubt you’d be able to fit 12 MIRV warheads into a cruise missile! I believe Tomahawk currently carries a 1 ton payload.

  67. 67
    NS Hinde says:

    The military always prepare for the last, not the future, war

  68. 68

    Guido you fall into the trap of all 9most) other loondon centric punters.

    The submarine launched nuclear deterrent and all of its massive infrastructure is already up and running thus most of the costs are already built and paid for.

    Derby depends on it, Rolls Royce have all the trained engineers and know how to build the reactors.

    Barrow similar to build the submarines.

    Faslane keeps Glasgow in work.

    Rosythe and Devonport similar for submarine refit.

    as a nation we simply could Not afford to rebuild all this or find the people to run it. do away with it and nnot only will hundreds of thousands be out of work but engineering in this country would suffer a severe blow. We certainly could not afford to do it again if required.

    It is not simply a case of downgrading for a while to lower tech due to a more benign Russia at this time. Once halted the nuclear deterrent could not be restarted.

    You are in danger or perhaps hhave faleen into the CND trap.

  69. 69
    Camus says:

    Enough of your Soviet Propaganda.

    Britain needs a big stick.
    Bigger, Nastier the better.

    I suppose we have sold off all our Nuclear weapons to the likes of EDF.

  70. 70
    Sandra in Accounts says:

    £1400 is not alot to spend on the only sure method of securing against future unknown threats.

    Only ICBMs on subsea platforms are a true deterrent. It works – a proven solution.

    This Lib Dem policy must not get any firther traction.

  71. 71
    tallrite says:

    Took a long time, Guido, but you got there in the end, leading us by the nose to your HILDA.

  72. 72
    Anonymous says:

    At last Guido sees sense.
    Soon at this rate he’ll stop sending pizzas to the IDF!.

  73. 73
    Anonymous says:

    Perfect example:

    HOTOL started in 1982 shut down government funding in 1988.

    Engineer who started HOTOL set up private company in 1989.

    It is now 24 years later and they have a heat exchanger!

    If it was possible in the UK we would have done it. I have worked in a quite a few countries, and the modern UK mentality is a dead loss. From the war time onwards we lost the ability to deliver. The model was to always sell out ideas to an overseas companies for small change. Our technology was sold abroad and we bought in technology. A few examples bucked this trend but they are all subservient to other overseas technology and so can never demand the returns they should receive.

  74. 74
    I thought this site was about free speech says:

    quite right. Nothing is independent in this country any more from weapons purchasing to energy sources to mass produced engineering to the Bank of England, all of these are corporations simply run to make money out of us and actually make us poorer.

  75. 75
    Anonymous says:

    Cruise missiles travel at 500mph, have a range of 1,000 miles and can be shot down with conventional weapons. Trident missiles reach speeds of 12,000mph, have a range of 8,000 miles and as the warhead free falls they are effectively unstoppable. Modifying Astute class submarine to launch nuclear cruise missiles would cost many billions (almost as much as replacing Trident, not a fraction of the cost of upgrading Trident as the article states) and we would have a nuclear deterrent which is much, much less effective than Trident. Completely stupid idea.

    Because the French develop their entire nuclear deterrent alone it costs them much, much more than Britain spends developing the warheads and submarines and buying Trident missile system in.

    There is also the whole range of tactical/operational issues to bear in mind. If the nuclear cruise missiles are added to the seven astute class submarines the Royal Navy will eventually have then they will have to do both the attack role and nuclear deterrent role at the same time, which would compromise both roles. Plus, with a range of just 1,000 miles (compared to the 8,000 of Trident) actually using the nuclear cruise missiles would be near impossible as they would have to get so far into enemy territorial waters they would be incredibly vulnerable. Trident missiles can be launched from the middle of the ocean, literally thousands of miles away from any land mass.

    This is one of the very worst articles I have read on this site – full of inaccuracies, badly researched ‘facts’ and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues being discussed.

  76. 76
    Herman Van Aerial Disease says:

    Such faith in this country makes me weep.. defeatism and apathy.. fuck the EU fuck David Cameron and his piece of paper from Frau Merkel.. all the things being said negatively about our ability to go it alone have been said before. We have the intelligence and gumption to do anything but it is just the pathetic apathy which stops us. No wonder we have been lead blindly into a fucking deep pile of shit by Heath and successive moronic governments.

  77. 77
    Old geezer says:

    It is not the Carrier that is the problem, the tail hook on the F35C does not always catch the arrester wire. Big problem. That is why the government went back to the F35B. It actually works.

  78. 78
    Will.scousers.ever.stop.stealing.ids says:

    The way France is going it won’t be able to afford a pointy stick soon.

    I know f’all about weaponry but I do know we will need good protection within the next 30 years from countries like Iran.

  79. 79
    Pedant patrol says:

    Fair point

  80. 80
    John Tandy says:

    We currently borrow money in order to give away in overseas aid which will increase to £11 billion a year very soon, so why not to defend ourselves ?

  81. 81
    What would Maggie do? says:

    You have got this one badly wrong Guido. Very unusual for you, but at least you are more than capable of reconsidering and listening to those who know the facts rather than the politics.

    Cruise missiles are not a credible, effective, cheap replacement. FACT.

    They have only just buried Mrs T and already you have come under the spell of her enemies.

  82. 82
    Sir Anthony Wedgewood Benn says:

    Different cheeks of the same arse!

  83. 83
    Anonymous says:

    You seem to be unable to farther than what is real today.

  84. 84
    Admiral Leach says:

    You’re right we do need protection in what will be a world that will see greater instability. The French would be more accommodating to a joint proposal if they are short of cash. As I say it needs much more study but to me a programme that allows both nations to develop cruise missile that can be used from existing subs they can put their own nuclear warhead on does look worth investigating. The technical challenges are not beyond us basically we need a missile that can hit a target at least 2500 miles away with a 2000lb payload. We do not need a large number of nuclear war heads as our aim is deterrence so no more 100 operational warhead (these would be what is called flexible yield which means we can alter the explosive effect in relation to the target, the current Trident warheads are of these sort). This would be European cooperation that really has a point.

  85. 85
    Anonymous says:

    By the way a government does not have to be involved. All schemes and tax systems in this country seem to need prior approval.

    What we need is government that steps back and creates the environment to allow real companies to grow. Multi year profits that can be “saved” and reinvested. Long terms gains (10 years+) that are free from tax.

    As for investment direct from government it should never be in the form of money for inventions. It should only be money for product delivery. Find the common goals and let the technology be created while delivering products.

    But that requires having politicians that have ever experienced created anything!

  86. 86
    The late Osama bin Liner says:

    What is wrong with pressure cookers filled with rusty nails?

    Or some old ricin dribbled on random envelopes?

  87. 87
    herewegoagain says:

    Guido has a point.

    The world is changing, Trident would never be used, it’s no more than a Vanity Project.

    The money could be spent elsewhere to better effect.

    And it might force people to stop clinging to their Imperial past…

  88. 88
    Herman Van Aerial Disease says:

    Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito, Tempest, Sea Fury, Lancaster, Wellington, Vulcan, Meteor, Canberra, Lightning, Javelin, Hunter, Harrier…such a terrible track record of British defence failures born out of a sorry bunch of Brits often created while our backs were against the wall. yep we are crap aren’t we? What has changed? we got fucking soft and apathetic.

  89. 89
    HenryV says:

    Your under estimating the problems involved. But I agree with everything you say about the UK and technology. But why can’t we change? Why can’t we go back? in these discussion it is always one way traffic to further decline. Rather like at uni’ where they had also part of Greater China by 2060. Why? It is defeatist.

    Who was the chap who came up with that “White Heat of Technology” tag line?

  90. 90
    Anonymous says:

    SEE farther

  91. 91
    Ernie says:

    Thanks Eric.

  92. 92
    HenryV says:

    Well said. You could have mentioned the CEP of approximately 100m. That is what I always find impressive. It can go so far, so fast, and yet hit such a small target.

  93. 93
    fat little Alec Salmon and that caviar woman says:

    A nice bung to the hard working in the Peoples Republic of Jockistan

  94. 94
    Lord Prescott says:

    Yeah, sorry about that.

  95. 95
    Anonymous says:

    Experts that tell others they are not experts, have not understood the concept of knowing something is wrong.

    A general person has an informed gut feeling that the situation is wrong. They see others acting differently. But as they are experts in other areas, they have no way to express the “wrong” in the perfectly correct language for those embedded in the present ways.

    This is a perfect example, Guido is right, but the details are wrong. But those details are not the point. There is another way, and those that are willing to see other options will understand. Technology has advanced and the solution is beyond those mired in current ways. We need protection from experts. Experts can never see the future. Their whole value exists in knowing about the present technology.

  96. 96
  97. 97
    the late Earl Haig says:

    It would be nice to drop one on that mau mau in the White House.

  98. 98
    Anonymous says:

    Abbott should direct her complaints about funeral costs to Gordon and Tony the next time she bumps into them in Westminster. They were the ones who drew up the plans along with all the pomp and splendour, and credit where credit’s due they did a fine job.

    I’d much rather my taxes paid to give Mrs T this dignified send-off, as befits a world statesman, rather than fund the lifestyle of the guy who set light to his own kids. But that’s just me.

  99. 99
    Fat little Alec Salmond and that caviar woman says:

    The Peoples Republic of Jockistan needs the money

  100. 100
    Dr Evil says:

    We should build our own for one main reason. Independent nuclear deterrent. Currently we cannot use our nuclear weapons without codes from the Yanks. This is outrageous. If we are to remain a nuclear power we need to be able to use our weapons if we wish to. We should also deploy nukes to the airforce too. Oh, we don’t have any bombers or long range missiles anymore. No black arrow, just zilch. Why is the UK, once a great leader in aerospace tech, such a busted flush nowadays? Penny pinching politicians I expect. Yet they waste billions on failed IT systems. Idiots.

  101. 101
    Anonymous says:

    To Guido,

    No you are wrong, “cruise missiles” have inherent range limitations – that means to man a global deterrent you have to position your submarines in relatively limited waterways (1000nm from Russia for example) where you are far more easily detected – furthermore any non-ballistic missile has a relatively high probability of being shot down by an IADS – so what you are in effect suggesting is more nuclear armed submarines lurking close to any potential adversary in waterways where they may well be detected and arming them with weapons that are in any case relatively trivial to shoot down – hardly a convincing deterrent.

    Trident WORKS because it is capable of hemispherical coverage – 2 subs on station is enough to cover the entire world and furthermore is nigh-on impossible to shoot down.

    This is the problem with basing your primary defensive strategy on ill-thought out arguments, and is ultimately why even Ed Milliband will grudgingly accept a like-for-like system – it needs to be an ICBM or it isn’t going to deter anyone.

  102. 102
    Leftard says:

    We must stop being an evil Imperialist nation and encourage all the special people of the world with their rich culture and spirit of song and dance to come and live here and rich people can pay.

    We won’t need nasty weapons if we embrace all the cultures of the world and share our wealth with them and they can enrich us in return.

  103. 103
    JH34923894239 says:

    Surely the French warhead would just consist of a MIRV based white-flag delivery system?

    They’d be able to surrender vast tracts of territory without even needing to cut their lunch short. Magnifique.

  104. 104
    Herman Van Aerial Disease says:

    Turnip and lentil stew anyone? ;-)

  105. 105
    Anonymous says:

    I have never underestimated anything in business. Hence why I can be here. If I had mucked up and over-ran on time or budget they would never have rewarded me.

    Leaders are the only solution to an inherent decline. This is why we need a change in this country. First we need to lead ourselves, and then a real leader will step up. All we have is a caretaker.

    We are like an overseas subsidiary of a multinational, everything we do is sanctioned by others. There is no reward for being subservient. “Play nice” but play as equals.

  106. 106
    WVM says:

    Well said Anonymous, it’ll never be used but it has to be seen to be there and fully capable.

  107. 107
    HenryV says:

    @ Anon – below

    Many run successful businesses doesn’t make they will be successful in all businesses and all spheres. You are obviously an intelligent capable person. But that “heat exchanger” is an extremely clever piece of equipment; that you don’t appreciate that shows that despite all your other obvious merits you don’t understand what REL has achieved. Everything else you say I agree with wholeheartedly.

  108. 108
    HenryV says:

    As Eric was a genius I will take that as a complement.

  109. 109
    ToryToryTory says:

    How many cruise missiles have been shot down in combat?

    The distinction between theatre, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons has always been a bogus one, made to suppose that once one nuclear weapon is fired, subsequent exchanges can somehow be limited. The nuclear warhead fitted to cruise missiles in the 80s was c10 time more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, plenty big enough bang for any purpose.

    The US is developing a longer range cruise missile, which could hit targets up to 2,000 km away. Is that enough for anyone we’d want to hit?

  110. 110
    Dougie says:

    £100B over 40 years – not so expensive. And I don’t know where you get the idea from that the French deterrent is much cheaper than ours. Just not true.

    If you had seen the UK defence industry at work as I have, I doubt you would be so confident in its ability to develop a new missile system at a reasonable cost within a reasonable timescale. Read any NAO reports on defence procurement recently?

  111. 111
    Lord Dunraven says:

    Let’s think. Nimrod AEW, Nimrod MRA-4, Type-45 destroyer, Astute-class submarine, FRES, Bowman (the original project as well as its replacement), Falcon communications, Brimstone missiles. All significantly delayed. All over-budget. Some did not work at all. Others did not work as well as they should have done. And ALL more recent than the most modern example of plucky Brit ingenuity which you have been able to come up with. And I have ignored other, recent projects, involving collaboration with our European allies and h have been equally impressive (eg: Typhoon, Voyager, A400M).

    British industry can be very good at coming up with solutions when backs are against the wall. But with the lack of competition inherent in a minute supplier base, British industry also has an extraodinary track record (ably assisted by the MOD, politicians and sometimes the forces themselves) of failing to deliver on time, on budget and to specification.

    The only solution to the malaise which anyone has been able to come up with has been to have a procurement strategy with avoids gold-plating and goes for COTS solutions. But there is no COTS solution for a strategic deterrent based on SLCMs (even if the concept of an SLCM-based strategic deterrent were not a contradiction in terms).

  112. 112
    Lord Dunraven says:

    ps: in the meantime, please feel free to carry on gazing at the Airfix model planes dangling from your bedroom ceiling and dreaming.

  113. 113
    Remittance Man says:

    There’s another advantage to the cruise missile option you fail to mention – adaptability.

    A Trident missile can only be used for one thing – lobbing nuclear warheads at people. A cruise missile, on the other hand is quite adaptable. Unscrew the nuke from the end and you can replace it with a conventional warhead or one full of bomblets. And those warheads can be ones designed to penetrate bunkers and tunnels, blow open concrete blockhouses or flatten normal buildings.

    You can also swap the land attack guidance package for one designed to find and hit warships or ones that home in on electronic signals, or targets designated by lasers.

    Put bluntly; there is so much more creative vandalism one can commit with a cruise missile.

  114. 114
    Remittance Man says:

    Actually we can. HMG just can’t make upo its mind what it wants.

  115. 115
    Herman Van Aerial Disease says:

    Well there you have it.. the nation is screwed we have to rely on other nations for our defence because we made mistakes in the past and nobody learns from mistakes do they?

  116. 116
    katya says:

    You look wonderful darling.

  117. 117
    HenryV says:

    He is so wrong on all counts on this issue it is difficult to know where to start to correct him.

  118. 118
    HenryV says:

    Unscrew the nuke. These things aren’t a kitchen appliance.

    Lord help us.

  119. 119
    Anonymous says:

    Agreed. Guido you don’t know what you’re talking about here. There are two arguments. One is about whether it’s worth the opportunity cost of having a nucelar deterrent. That’s a fair argument for you to make – it’s basically a policy question.

    The other is about what is required IF you have decided to have a nuclear deterrent. And, as a number on here have outlined, cruise missiles etc just don’t cut it. (All a bit of a Lib-Dem wishy washy compromise that won’t actually do the job it is meant to do..)

    Stick to misbehaving MPs, cant and hypocrisy in Parliament and Govt. Come back and write on technical stuff like this once you’ve done a bit of reading..

  120. 120
    Lord Dunraven says:

    You have finally got there. That just about sums it up nicely. Although you missed out the bit about the UK no longer being able to afford follies of grandeur such as Bliar’s decision to acquire two vanity aircraft carriers.

  121. 121
    Anonymous says:

    On the assumption that you’re not actually a doctor – you would never presume to write about how to conduct heart surgery (“Just cut this pipe and stitch up the other one….”) What makes you think you are any more qualified to opine on how to ‘use’ cruise missiles ?! “Unscrew the nuke…”….FFS…

  122. 122
    perception says:

    “During the Cold War no one was keener on deterring the Soviet Union than Guido; Trident, Pershing and Cruise missiles ” If you are Geedo number 1, up until 1985 you had not reached your majority so there was only about 3/4 years and the cold war was over but I will leave that there. I DO agree with your other sentiments and said so in various other names on this blog in the past. We did in the sixties have our own ICBM known as Blue Streak, that was pulled in favour of a US system. It seems just plain daft to buy in very expensive weapons which are unlikely to be used anyway, especially with the financial problems that blight the UK. It is time the UK started to do things for itself and not buy everything in from abroad.

  123. 123
    perception says:

    “£1400″ my Sandy, your armaments are cheap, contact Mr D. Cameron, 10 Downing Street, London

  124. 124
    perception says:

    Just so, watching this lot is like watching wheat in a field over a period of time, first it is blown one way then it is blown another, and the wind changes direction again and again.

  125. 125
    Chris says:


    The cost of replacement of Trident is for the submarines and not the missiles. The submarines, are built in the UK, at Barrow-in-furness Cumbria.

    Cruise missiles are slow, easy to shoot down and require the submarine to be closer to the enemy.

    France, spends billions on its own version of Trident. The French nuclear deterrent has two basic elements; a sea-launched and an air-launched component. The Force Oceanique Strategique (FOST) rests upon four missile-carrying Triomphant-class submarines. This is considered the minimum needed to keep one vessel at sea at all times. These submarines are gradually being adapted to carry a new ballistic missile – the M51 – and between now and 2015 a new nuclear warhead will also be deployed.

    You are wrong on this Guido.

  126. 126
    perception says:

    Didn’t Maggie instigate having the Trident system in this country, when this country again had no money but again the cold war was still going on.

  127. 127
    perception says:

    Stick to trains Bobby, there’s a good chap.

  128. 128
    The last Bastion says:

    What utter dogshit! The french do not have a cheap deterrent, they have SLBMs, just not as good as trident, and the have 4 SSBNs to launch them. You have to realise that the so called Trident replacement isn’t a replacement of the Trident D5 missiles, it should actually be called the Vanguard class replacement, becuase that is what it is, 4 new Ballistic missile submarines, and the cost is not £100 billion it’s around £15 billion, for boats which do everything astute can and more. It is only when you factor in through life running costs, which you would have for 4 more astutes, that the numbers look scary, but that is over 25+ years, even then it’s more like £70 billion.

  129. 129
    Archbishop Cromwell says:

    That’s like saying we should arm squaddies with sporks instead of bayonets because rather than just stabbing people with them they can also eat their soup and vacuum packed curry. There’s a difference of importance between the two tasks.

  130. 130
    Airey Belvoir says:

    We could have save a fortune, and had better-equipped forces by ditching the political pork-barrelling and buying good American kit off the shelf. Why pay huge weapons development costs (and then screw up) when the Yanks can do it?

  131. 131
    bomb the bastards says:

    As has been pointer out above, Guido’s grasp of nuclear deterence is sub-opitimal. In fact nuclear weapons are cheap compared to the amount of conventional forces required to the same job.

    Plus in recent times when the EU has blackmailed Cyprus over handing its citzens cash, who’s to say that sometime in the future Brussels might try atomic blackmail, if we got rid of or downgrade our deterrent?

  132. 132
    El Sid says:

    The plan is to stick with essentially the same missiles so that’s not an issue, the problem is that we need to replace the submarines.

  133. 133
    Anonymous says:

    I am absolutely sure it is clever. But without the backing it is useless.

    The bit that is not clever, and reflects on the UK, is stated clearly by yourself: “operate on a shoestring”.

  134. 134
    ZT says:

    The US gave the serial numbers of all the ‘British’ missiles, with all associated tracking information, to the Russians. Trident is not an independent system.

  135. 135
    mraemiller says:

    The problem with using a simpler missile system is the missiles are easier to shoot down. We could go back to polaris but I believe that that used to use the earth’s magnetic field for guidance which is due to flip sometime soon.

    I’m pretty sure Trident uses satellite technology for guidance – in which case I would guess that since the Americans put the satellites up there they can just turn this off. So I doubt we could fire it without their say so anyway.

    Really I always thought the Trident money was in all but name a financial bung that the UK gives to the US in return for favours … which allows the US to have ICBMs in Europe but pretend they’re European.

  136. 136
    dansmith17 says:

    As you say at present the issue is the Vanguard class replacement, we have Trident, we plan to keep Trident and it is the boats they move around in that are wearing out.

    At present we do not need anything like Trident it is a huge willy waving wast of money. Yes if we were planning WW3 with Putin dropping a free fall bomb from a Tornado or even a cruise would risk being shot down. But if the threat is Argentina or Tehran then a Cruise from Astute would work fine.

    the issue is if we do not build Vanguard replacement boats the only shipyard capable of building nuclear subs will go out of business and when we want to reinstate the capability in 20-30 years time we will no longer be able to.

    We are proposing to build something we do not need because at some point in the future we might need it and so we need to maintain the ability to build it!

  137. 137
    dansmith17 says:

    The issue is who do you think the threat is. If it is Putin and Russia they are still sitting on several hundred ICBMS, which could wipe UK off the map if we attacked them and a very sophisticated air defence system which might bring down a single Cruise missile. They have a naval SSBN force like us but it is actually surprisingly small with 5 boats in based in North Russia, while we and the French have 8 between us, before you add in the yanks, and they have 4 boats in the Pacific opposite China. If both us and the French are claiming we need 4 boats to guarantee 1 at sea, the Russians have worse maintenance etc records, realistically at most they have 1 at sea in the Atlantic and 1 in the Pacific.

    If the threat is the USA the other power with thousands of nuclear weapons then we would not be buying Trident in the first place but producing something truly independent.

    If the threat is that at some point in the future Pakistan or Iran can put a single bomb in a container ship to the port of London, and wipe out London. Our response at present from 3 boats parked alongside the harbour in Scotland would wipe either country off the face of the map. The response with cruise on Astute would depend on whether there was a boat East of Suez, and if not might take a week or two, but would then wipe them of the map. they do not have sophisticated air defence systems. We have been firing Cruise missiles over them to get to Iraq or Afghanistan for years.

  138. 138
    dansmith17 says:

    Who needs 12 MIRV warheads if what is required is a single Megaton category warhead capability for Tehran or Bunos Airies. Theoretically Cruise can be shot down but we have been firing them for over a decade at Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and I would be interested to know how many were actually shot down.

    Trident is required as a last resort if Putin or Putins replacement has decided to wipe UK or all of Western Europe off the map with their several hundred ICBMs. If the threat is one of the unstable regimes who might generate a single warhead or two, and have negligible air defences. You can use something else.

  139. 139
    dansmith17 says:

    Barrow in Furness shipyards are a little South of Jockistan.

  140. 140
    A faceless Pleb says:

    Oi, are you the geezer oo uster be Viscount Stansgate?

  141. 141
    Anonymous says:

    “I’m pretty sure Trident uses satellite technology for guidance – in which case I would guess that since the Americans put the satellites up there they can just turn this off.”
    I think you will find that Trident double checks GPS with its own star sightings.

  142. 142
    Cool warrior says:

    The Danes had a good idea back in the good old Cold War days: an automated phone call to Moscow saying “We Surrender”. If we got G Galloway “MP” to re-record it in his best sucking-up-to-Saddam voice and beamed it to Islamabad, Tehran & Pyongyang it should do the trick.

  143. 143
    Dolfo Hilter says:

    For you Brick, ze var is over

  144. 144
    Anonymous says:

    “So I doubt we could fire it without their say so anyway.”
    According to a Freedom of information answer the UK has sovereignty over the missiles usage.


  145. 145
    Twitter hater says:

    Is there no silencing these tweeting bufoons? Who the hell cares what a fat middle-aged femme said on the Today prog and then repeated to her deluded, twittering ‘followers’ in case they were watching Octonauts at the time? Enough!

  146. 146
    Anonymous says:

    The French sub launched missiles, I’m guessing, uses the new Galileo gps system, which the UK has helped to fund as a European alternative to the American GPS system.

    To give an idea of what is going on read this.


    Harmonisation is being stepped up a gear.

  147. 147
    Augusto Pinochet says:

    Guido’s gone all CND

  148. 148
    Anonymous says:

    Submarine based balletic missiles, as opposed to the alternatives, are justified on the premise of submarines being undetectable for long periods. This it is argues guarantees second strike. But technology such as satellite infra red has advanced. they can see submarine wakes on the surface even when the submarine is submerged. Thus reason for basing them in ballstic submarines is in doubt.

  149. 149
    El Sid says:

    That adaptability is more of a bug than a feature. One of the main reasons the nuclear-tipped Tomahawk was withdrawn is that it makes nuclear escalation much more likely. Imagine you’re an enemy of the UK and you spot some HILDAs coming towards you. Will you think a)”That’s OK, we know they’re conventional” or b) “That _could_ be a nuclear strike, we better retaliate with a nuclear strike of our own”. It’s a real problem.

  150. 150
    Anon says:

    That begs the question why China , France and Russia have , in the last decade or so, upgraded their sub launch capabilities. And why the Americans are in the process of upgrading theirs ?

  151. 151
    Four-eyed English Genius says:

    The key word here is “deterrent”!. Cruise missiles are not a deterrent.

  152. 152
    El Sid says:

    How many cruise missiles have been shot down in combat?

    Thousands – Spitfires, Mosquitoes etc shot down nearly 2000 in WWII, never mind the ones lost to AA guns and barrage balloons. Only about 50% of Tomahawks hit their target in Gulf War I, and that was against an Iraqi air defence system that was rather more primitive than what the RN had in the Falklands (and we know how that did against Exocet). Unlike the Iraqis in 1991, all modern air defence systems are tuned to defend against cruise missiles, so you can imagine the hit rate would be rather less against even a regional power such as Iran, never mind the big one against China.

  153. 153
    El Sid says:

    The tail hook problem is relatively minor by the standards of these things – perhaps the biggest single technical problem facing the F-35 programme is the F-35B being overweight, they’re already having to ditch safety features like the PAO shutoff valve to save just a few pounds of weight. There’s various other reasons why the F-35B is less satisfactory than the other versions – lugging around all the VTOL bits being the main one, higher acquisition costs being another.

    The reason we went back to the F-35B though was that BAe had made out that the carrier could easily be converted to cats and traps, but when the time came to actually figure out how to do it, we could have built another 2 carriers for the price of converting just one.

  154. 154
    The Iron Duke says:

    You really *REALLY* do not want any adversary wondering if that cruise missile inbound is a Tomahawk with a 1000lb conventional warhead or a British “special” packing a bucket of instant sunshine !!

  155. 155
    Haribo Halfwit says:

    A deeply dangerous option. Britain will start a scheme from scratch to save money and develop abilities in-house.

    It will suffer scandalous an unpunished price inflation and die of shame, like the Ground Nut Scheme and British Space Programme.

    Finally, we lose our baked-in option to buy at 2015’s price and have to pay full going market rate (and be publicly humiliated into the bargain).

  156. 156
    HenryV says:

    You mean willow rods not infrared.

  157. 157
    Haribo Halfwit says:

    Another over-budget vanity project. Was it Mitterrand or Chirac who got everyone to sign up for this?

  158. 158
    Anonymous says:

    Well, we have got be prepared for when the Martians attack us, haven’t we?

    I saw the film.

  159. 159
    John Ward (Medway) says:

    Hopefully our total strategy would be a Marine, Air and Ground Guard (against) International Encroachment – the MAGGIE…

  160. 160
    mraemiller says:

    We’ll just have to hope it isn’t cloudy then

  161. 161
    El Sid says:

    You know how you break through the cloud layer on a commercial airliner and spend most of the journey above the clouds?

    ICBMs go about 100x higher than that, they go well into outer space. Which is why they don’t worry about cloud cover.

  162. 162
    Lost in Translation says:

    Trident is a ballistic missile. It take a ballistic trajectory to its target.

  163. 163
    Lost in Space says:

    Vanity ?
    No. But it has given the EU a global targeting system and the UK taxpayer has helped and are continuing to fund it.
    The French , I’m guessing, are using it for their new sub launched intercontinental ballistic missiles.
    But like the objections for using Trident to carry the UKs nuclear deterrent, the Americans can turn off the GPS system, now the EU can turn off their Galileo GPS system.
    Someone should have to explain why the UK taxpayer has helped to fund this situation.

  164. 164

    No, no, you miss the point;whether the UK needs a Trident replacement or not is irrelevant. The arms manufacturers need the money and so all patriotic Britishers including the next generation of Britishers will be expected dig deep to pay for it. Be glad you are British!!!

  165. 165
    Does not compute says:

    It’s the submarines which need replacing, not the missiles, nor the actual warheads.
    So if your objection is down to the UK building nuclear powered submarines , then I presume you don’t want the Royal Navy to have any kind of nuclear powered submarines (SSN) ?

  166. 166

    Indeed but once it’s outside the atmosphere it must be following a ballistic (unpowered) trajectory and cannot steer its self. Plus the warheads need to be sheilded for re-entry so I am somewhat cynical about the missile’s ability to get out a telescope. Mind you I guess this is why they’re so expensive…..

Seen Elsewhere

Javid: Let Tories Campaign For Out Vote | House
Ministry of Justice Loses Death Inquiry Data “In the Post” | TechnoGuido
Europe’s Crisis is Cameron’s Opportunity | Speccie
Sajid Javid is the Ultimate Thatcherite | Buzzfeed
Ed Argar Selected in Dorrell Seat | Leicester Mercury
88% of New Labour MPs Are Union Bods | Mark Wallace
Massively Popular Porn Site is Infecting Users | Techno Guido
Newspapers No Longer Willing to Toe Party Line | Roy Greenslade
Introducing the New CapX | CapX
Burnham’s Newsnight Debacle Dissected | Dan Hodges
How I Survived Dry January | Nigel Farage

Rising Stars
Find out more about PLMR AD-MS

Dan Hodges on Labour unity

“We’ve heard a lot over the past few years about how Miliband has united Labour. But he has not united Labour. He has pacified Labour. He has placed it into a medically induced coma following the trauma of the party’s 2010 defeat.”

Tip off Guido
Web Guido's Archives

Subscribe me to:


AddThis Feed Button

Guido Reads

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,715 other followers