A recently declassified report submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee analyzes how Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey would respond if Tehran acquires nuclear weapons. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East will have a deep impact on the homeland security market of Saudi Arabia. The announcement in December 2007 of a joint project between Areva, the French nuclear reactor maker, and Saudi Arabia for the development of nuclear energy made in December 2007 might be of one the steps taken by the Saudi Government in upgrading the Kingdom’s capabilities to reflect the new realities of the Middle East. The B-2A bomber, which is designed to slip through air defenses undetected, does not currently have a capability to deliver nuclear cruise missiles, a role reserved exclusively for B-52H bombers.
Under the Air Force’s plans, however, the new nuclear cruise missile – known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon – will arm three nuclear bombers: the B-2A, the B-52H, and the next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber. The disclosure that the new nuclear cruise missile will be carried on the B-2A, B-52H, as well as the next generation bomber has emerged in recent Air Force testimony to Congress, the Air Force’s FY2014 budget request, and in a little notice interview in Air Force Magazine.
In the public debate about the cost of nuclear weapons modernizations, it is often said that the new long-range strike bomber is not a significant nuclear cost because most of its mission is non-nuclear. Over the next five years alone, design and development costs for the missile are expected to reach more than $1 billion.
In addition to the cost of the missile itself, the production of the nuclear warhead will add even more. When deployed on the B-2A, the LRSO will give the stealth bombers a nuclear standoff capability to carry out missions in heavy air defense environments, according to Billy Mullins, the associated director of strategic deterrence and nuclear integration on the Air Staff. But that doesn’t quite explain why the Air Force has decided to make the new cruise missile compatible with all three bombers. The new nuclear cruise missile will probably have extended range and stealth features similar to or better than the Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM) that the Air Force retired in 2007.
Moreover, adding LRSO capability to all three bombers would be a significant expansion of the nuclear cruise missile capacity of the U.S.
Most important in term of capability, perhaps, is the transition of nuclear cruise missiles onto stealth platforms (B-2A and LRS-B) that have a much better penetration capability than the current cruise missile carrier (B-52H). It seems a bit strange, though, to spend money adding LRSO capability to the B-52H because that bomber is scheduled to retain the ALCM to 2030 and retire only 10 years later. Overall, the nuclear capability of the bomber force is expected to change significantly over the next couple of decades as older weapons are retired and new ones added. The implications of adding nuclear cruise missile capability to the B-2A stealth bomber are many. If one believes that a nuclear cruise missile is still needed, a better and less expensive alternative would be to only add LRSO capability to the next-generation bomber and phase out the nuclear capability of B-52H when the current ALCM retires around 2030. Either way, deploying an improved nuclear cruise missile on improved stealthy bombers appears to challenge the Obama administration’s promise to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and not to add military capabilities during life-extension programs. These are only a fraction of the nuclear modernizations underway in all the nuclear weapons states.
The Long-Range Standoff weapon (LRSO; not LWSW) still has to be developed but it will be a long-range air-breathing cruise missile with stealth capability. Going to 1550 under New Start will eventually allow a Chinese preemptive strike to have a reasonable prospect of success – a winnable nuclear war by Chinese standards (400 million casualties are considered acceptable by many key Red Army generals and advisers). It has long been rumoured, and often reported, that in return for bankrolling the Pakistani nuclear weapons project, Saudi Arabia has a claim on some of those weapons in time of need. Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. The trouble is lots of intelligence reports originate in Israel and some are probably true, but the timing of this one, while talks on the Iranian nuclear programme are underway, is fairly convenient. It is not a new story, of course, but Urban came up with some new data points: a Saudi belief that it could obtain nuclear weapons from Pakistan at any time, and reported intelligence that Pakistan has prepared nuclear weapons for delivery to Saudi Arabia. David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, broadly agrees.

In a short period of time, the effects of the bomb were felt from Hawaii to New Zealand, as planes experienced electrical surges, lamplights were blown out and a giant aurora bloomed in the sky. On May 25, North Korea flipped a radioactive bird at President Barack Obama when it exploded a nuclear device in an underground facility in the northeast part of the country. If Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, it will place tremendous pressure on Saudi Arabia to follow suit. In such a scenario, there would be strong voices in the Turkish General Staff, as well as among ultra-nationalist politicians, arguing for Turkey to respond by pursuing nuclear weapons.
The Saudi government has already demonstrated on many occasions its decisiveness to go all the way in defending the Kingdom (for more information see Saudi Arabia Homeland Security Market Outlook – 2009-2018). Air Force plans to arm the B-2A stealth bomber with a new nuclear cruise missile that is in the early stages of development, according to Air Force officials and budget documents.
But that ignores the expensive nuclear payloads (B61-12 and LRSO) that are intended to arm the new bomber. But the budget projections in the FY2014 budget request indicate that it will be a very expensive weapon system. Rather than a new warhead, the Air Force plans to use a life-extended version of an existing warhead: W80-1, W84, or the B61. This will significantly change where and when in a conflicts nuclear cruise missiles can be used, an enhancement that will be boosted even further by the fact that the LRSO cruise missile probably will be more advanced than the ALCM it replaces. The ALCM is currently undergoing refurbishment to ensure that it can remain in service through the 2020s. In addition to the new LRSO, this includes the new guided B61-12 bomb and the possible retirement of the B61-7 and B83-1 bombs. Probably not all of them will be nuclear-capable, though, but perhaps half equipped with the B61-12 and LRSO nuclear weapons. They include improved military capabilities, extensive costs, and the international perception of what U.S.
Russia is also building a new nuclear cruise missile for its bombers, and China is adding cruise missiles to some of its intermediate-range bomber (although there is no indication yet that they are nuclear). All hold speeches about ending nuclear arms competition, reducing the numbers and role of nuclear weapons, and pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons, yet all continue to do what they have always done: building and deploying new nuclear weapons. They built almost 400 W84s, which were used in the ground-launched cruise missile until it was banned by the INF Treaty in 1987. The next-generation bomber is to eventually replace all the strategic bombers, but the B-2 will remain in service until the 2050s. A nuclear Jassm probably offers longer range due to lighter payload, I guess 1500 km range is realistic.
The chart shows ALCM capability on the B-52 in 2010 and LRSO capability being added from 2030.
If the Saudis are constantly calibrating the costs and benefits of shipping in Pakistani nukes, I imagine they are still a long way from calling in their chit, and the Pakistanis likewise.
Once detonated, the warheads generate not only heat and light, but incredible amounts of X- and gamma rays. An electromagnetic field was created above the earth, far larger than scientists predicted, as electrons were excited and accelerated to incredible speeds. The test site was not far from the spot where, in 2006, North Korea exploded a similarly frightening gizmo, described at the time by the Bush administration as a "nookyullar" device. The only factor that would likely dissuade the Saudis from pursuing a nuclear weapon would be a restored United States-Saudi bilateral relationship and a repaired Saudi perception regarding the reliability of the U.S. High energy prices allow virtually unlimited defense & homeland security spending, enough to transform Saudi Arabia into Fort-Knox-country.
Garrett Harencak, assistant chief of staff for Air Force strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, informed Congress last week that the Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) nuclear cruise missile “will be designed at its outset to be compatible with B-52, B-2, and the LRS-B” (Long-Range Strike-Bomber). If other life-extension programs are any indication, then the LRSO warhead program can be expected to cost several billion dollars.

The answer appears to be that expected improvements in enemy air defense systems by 2030 will make the stealth bomber less stealthy and that a standoff capability therefore is needed for the nuclear strike mission. Perhaps the LRSO will be dual-capable (although this has not been stated) or that the Air Force has simply decided to add a new nuclear cruise missile to all three bombers to provide maximum flexibility. Currently, some 528 ALCMs are assigned to 44 B-52H bombers in four squadrons of the 2nd and 5th Bomb Wings. France has just introduced a new nuclear cruise missile on its fighter-bombers, and Pakistan is working on two nuclear cruise missiles for its aircraft.
The USAF keeps talking about the LWSW as a “nuclear cruise missile” but I was just wondering if the LWSW will be a more exotic weapon system.
The new Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) is the stated replacement for both the B-52H and B-2A aircraft with some 90-100 to be acquired. The remaining 380, or so, were retired by the Bush administration’s stockpile reduction by the end of 2007. With LRSB as a delivery platform, the missile’s shorter range is compensated by the stealth penetration ability of the aircraft. If the ALCM program moves ahead, it could potentially become operational a little earlier toward the mid-2020s. The second part is probably false: I doubt that Pakistan is ready to send nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia.
For Saudi Arabia to take possession it would mean withdrawing from the NPT [nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]. But it serves both countries, as well as Israel, to have the story front and centre while US and Iran sit down in Geneva.
In the future, also the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB would also receive nuclear cruise missiles, as would the bases that receive the next-generation bomber. However, they won’t all arrive at once and it would probably take years of production to even replace the B-52Hs.
Since the new bomber will arrive from the mid-2020s, it doesn’t make sense to me to fit the B-2 and B-52 with the LRSO as well. Khan, with some governmental support or at least acquiescence, to North Korea, Iran and Libya). Remember, the B-1 was build to replace all those obsolescent B-52s back in the day and we know how that turned out.
Pakistan knows that transferring nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia would also incur huge diplomatic and reputational costs. Only in a very dire situation in which Iran has a nuclear weapon and is being confrontational, could you imagine something like this. North Korea is still capable of firing enough conventional and chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of people in Japan or South Korea. If you’re in range, be scared of that.So why the heck is North Korea detonating nukes underground?
That said, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is undergoing some significant shifts, as evidenced by the decision not to accept the UN Security Council seat, so the situation has become more unpredictable. It is conceivable that Saudi Arabia planted some of the evidence for this story as a means of putting pressure on the United States to be firm in dealing with Iran.
Japan, China and South Korea are economic superpowers.North Korea, however, has languished.

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