How COVID-19 might affect US nuclear weapons and planning

By Steven Pifer

The Department of Defense has begun to ratchet up spending to recapitalize the U.S. strategic nuclear triad and its supporting infrastructure, as several programs move from research and development into the procurement phase.  The projected Pentagon expenditures are at least $167 billion from 2021-2025. This amount does not include the large nuclear warhead sustainment and modernization costs funded by the Department of Energy, projected to cost $81 billion over the next five years.

Nuclear forces require modernization, but that will entail opportunity costs. In a budget environment that offers little prospect of greater defense spending, especially in the

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