National Security

Biden Pentagon Could Buy Almost A Dozen Aircraft Carriers With What It’s Set To Spend On One Missile Program

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Jake Smith Contributor
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The Biden administration’s Pentagon could purchase roughly a dozen aircraft carriers with what it is set to spend on a single missile program.

The LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program, a project of defense contractor Northrop Grumman meant to replace the Air Force’s outdated nuclear weapons system, could cost as much as $140 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday. The Pentagon could buy roughly ten Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, the most advanced and expensive of its kind, with the same funds, according to USNI News. (RELATED: Biden Pentagon Reportedly Worked Behind The Scenes To Throw Out Probe’s Findings On Top Commander’s ‘Misconduct’)

With the $140 billion, the Pentagon could also purchase roughly 46 Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines, among the most powerful vessels in the naval fleet, or over 1,200 F-35 Lightning IIs, the most advanced fighter jet in the world, according to and Simple Flying. The $140 billion the Pentagon is set to spend over the coming years is roughly one-fifth of the U.S. 2024 defense budget of $825 billion, according to Defense News.

The Sentinel program was initially estimated to cost only $77 billion, but further estimations of what was needed to operate and maintain the program ballooned cost estimates to $140 billion, even if it is “reasonably modified” to potentially reduce costs, according to the Pentagon.

Most of the cost overruns are stemming from the Sentinel’s command and launch system which includes control centers and missile silos. On the current track, the Sentinel program could cost as much as $160 billion, according to Defense News.

“There are reasons for this cost growth, but there are also no excuses,” William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement on Monday. “We fully appreciate the magnitude of the costs, but we also understand the risks of not modernizing our nuclear forces and not addressing the very real threats we confront.”

The Sentinel program aims to provide a modernized upgrade to the Air Force’s nuclear weapons arsenal and complement the nuclear Triad, according to the Pentagon. The Triad acts as a deterrence measure against American adversaries and provides the most high-grade nuclear capabilities in the event that deterrence fails.

The Pentagon has directed the Air Force, which is getting the Sentinel missiles, to restructure the program to curtail the expanded costs, according to Defense News. But restructuring will delay the program by several years, posing further challenges to an already problem-ridden project.

The cost of one unit of the Sentinel missile was initially expected to cost $118 million in 2020, when initial spending goals were set, according to Defense News. The number shot up to $162 million in January, and the current revised cost now stands at $214 million.

In “hindsight,” the Air Force didn’t have enough initial information to correctly calculate how expensive components of the Sentinel Program would be, LaPflante told reporters, per Defense News.

“A restructured Sentinel program is essential to ensure we remain best postured to address future threats,” General David W. Allvin, chief of staff of the Air Force, said in a statement on Monday.

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