The Pentagon is planning to buy up to 1,000 new long-range nuclear missiles amid growing alarm over China‘s ballooning arsenal of doomsday weapons.
It comes as Joe Biden is set to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping face-to-face for the first time in a year next week in San Francisco at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
The new missiles will be carried by B-52 bombers and, ultimately, the new futuristic B-21 Raider stealth bomber, which made its first test flight in California on Friday.
China has recently surged its production of nuclear warheads.
This week, senior diplomats from the U.S. and China met in Washington for their first nuclear arms control talks since the Obama administration.
It was a ‘candid’ meeting and U.S. officials said they emphasized the ‘importance of increased PRC (Chinese) nuclear transparency’ to ‘avert an unconstrained arms race’.
The new U.S. AGM-181 Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) nuclear-tipped cruise missiles will replace existing AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCMs).
In its 2024 budget the Air Force has set aside $978 million for them and the first of them are set to be operational by the end of the decade.
The ultimate cost of the program is estimated at $16.2 billion.
They will carry warheads with a yield up to 10 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Each missile will have ‘dial-a-yield’ capability, meaning they can be set to explode with a power equivalent to between 5 and 150 kilotons of TNT.
The Hiroshima bomb was about 15 kilotons, and the one dropped on Nagasaki three days later was about 20 kilotons.