BRITAIN has increased the number of warheads each Trident nuclear missile carries as part of a precautionary measure in the face of growing threats from Russia.
News of the move – which follows a decision last year to increase the overall warhead stockpile – emerges ahead of tomorrow’s May 9 celebrations in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin is expected to send a “doomsday message” to the west. Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent uses four Vanguard-class submarines, of which two are always on patrol, while a third is at operational readiness and the fourth undergoes maintenance.
Following the 2010 defense review, it was decided that each armed boat be allowed to carry a maximum of 40 warheads to be distributed unevenly among eight D5 missiles.
However, while details are classified, it is believed the V-boats have been carrying considerably fewer of both.
Last year defense secretary Ben Wallace announced a significant shift in Britain’s nuclear posture by announcing the number of nuclear warheads in Britain’s arsenal would increase by 40 per cent to 260.
Most of the warheads, which are manufactured in Britain, have a yield of 80-100 kilotons – the equivalent of TNT –five or six times greater than the “Little Boy” atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The move, announced as the Integrated Review dubbed Russia Britain’s “most acute threat”, reversed a decision which was to have seen the number of warheads reduced from 195 to 180.
But it was not until Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine that steps began to be taken to increase the nuclear payloads carried by the Trident fleet, sources have confirmed.
In a statement made just days after the February 24 invasion, the Russian leader warned that any nation that considered interfering from outside would “face consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.
He placed Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert, test fired a new Satan 2 missile which can carry 15 warheads and has a range of 11,000 miles.
Since then, prime time broadcasts on state-owned channels have continued to suggest that Russia would use nuclear weapons against countries who supported Ukraine.