The UK’s TRIDENT weapon system – unacceptably UNRELIABLE?

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At the back end of 2015, a post was published here [TRIDENT REPLACEMENT – it’s got to be a joke, but it isn’t funny?], that posed 16 pertinent questions that MPs needed to ask themselves before they debated about replacing the ‘current’ TRIDENT system and voted on it. Now, there apparently was one glaring omission from the questions, and that was

  • does the bloody thing actually work?

 

Well, the answer to that one would seem to have been “no, actually it doesn’t”.

The real reason though for that question not being in the original list, was because at the time of writing, it seemed to be preposterous to suggest that TRIDENT could ever fail.

Those of us who have ever been involved in Defence procurement, know that all weapon systems have specified ‘acceptable’ failure rates (say like for guns jamming in a desert environment), but when you are dealing with a nuclear weapon delivery system, one would expect the rate to be “not in a million years”, wouldn’t you? It HAS to be something that the Defence Chiefs have ABSOLUTE faith in, isn’t it? Well, nowadays they can NOT, can they?

The reason for that though, is because it has somehow come to light that last summer a test firing of an ‘unarmed’ missile from a newly refurbished submarine, failed miserably. It currently appears that fiasco was the result of a unit malfunction, rather than system or human deficiency?

What then followed however, was an irresponsible ‘cover-up’ of the worrying incident by the David Cameron Government. Now there are of course valid reasons why defence failures aren’t normally widely publicised – for security reasons nobody wants to expose ‘hidden’ defence operational setbacks. However, this situation is completely different, because ALL the BIG players (starting with Russia & China) will have known ALL about it, and indeed witnessed Britain’s failed test mortification at the very time it happened, wouldn’t they? Yep, you can’t launch an intercontinental missile these days without everybody and their dog noticing, can you? Moreover, they will have laughingly watched as it veered off-course and was doubtlessly remotely blown-up by those launching and tracking it, or by an integrated fail safe system, eh?

One can only imagine though what would have happened if the missile had been actually launched with a nuclear warhead, as part of an intended British military attack? It not only would have failed to do its job, but it could have trenched an unintended massive populated area, including possibly that of an ally, like the USA?

Now, the Government’s problem with not owning-up to this botched test immediately, is that it was inevitable that the whole truth would COME OUT, and that it would be compounded by the fact that they have in the past made big waves in the media about successful launches of such TRIDENT missiles (including providing video) – so they can’t expect to play it both ways, can they? No, they should have had the common sense to know that if they want to grandiosely show off the powerful TRIDENT weapon launching, then they can’t hide behind the ‘national security’ excuse when its deficiencies come to light, can they?

However, why this is an extremely significant “political” matter, and is likely to become even more so, is twofold and where both issues unfortunately involve the new Prime Minister Terresa May.

Firstly, she acceded to the previous PM’s ‘cover-up’ when after taking over, she knowingly just a few days later carried it forward into the critical parliamentary debate [much delayed as it happens] on renewing TRIDENT by proceeding to build a fleet of new submarines for the next ocean based delivery platform.

Oh yes, she aggressively led the debate urging to renew TRIDENT and avoidance of the gross irresponsibility of giving-up nuclear weapons, while hiding the fact that she knew all along that there was now a question mark over the reliability of the ‘current’ TRIDENT1 system, which unbelievably has only been in service 22 years, eh?

The consequence of May withholding from the House of Commons, what many consider vital information about the test firing’s worrying failure, was that three quarters of the MPs agreed to carry-on down the track of the full Trident replacement programme, which will undoubtedly bankrupt this Country while denying it a proper Army, Airforce, or Navy – all in favour of a so-called ‘deterrent’ that can’t ever be used (even if it works) without the utter destruction of the World, can it?

Secondly, for someone who has presented herself over the past six months as a tough confident cookie of a Prime Minister, it was surprising that May didn’t understand that she would never get away with the ploy of saying as little as possible to the media about her knowledge of the missile test failure, or her refusal to accept that her fellow MPs should have had knowledge of the stressful incident while debating the whole future of the system – her lack of clarity and stonewalling claim that it was irrelevant to the debate, are crass responses that could even be of permeant damage to her credibility, don’t you think?

What the British public have right to expect, but don’t often get, is a bit of honesty and transparency, from their politicians, don’t they? Yes, but what they actually get is a diet of lies, misleadings, economical with the truth utterings, all garnished of course with the blatant ducking of difficult questions, don’t they?

While May and her Government pretend to be in an inexplicable game of poker with potential enemies that requires them to continue to hold their cards close to their chests, the Americans, who must be totally accountable for the British missile test failure because they provide and maintain them, separately casually tell the world all about it, eh?

[A UK goodbye to nuclear weapons would be a good solution perhaps, don’t you think?]

 

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