CBO Estimates Costs of Nuclear Forces

The projected cost of operating, maintaining, and modernizing US nuclear forces between 2015 and 2024 is $348 billion, or about $35 billion per year over that period, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That number includes Defense Department and Energy Department outlays and factors inflation, states CBO’s Jan. 22 report. That estimate includes $160 billion for strategic nuclear delivery systems (i.e., ICBMs, long-range bombers, and ballistic missile submarines) and for weapons (e.g., warheads); $8 billion for tactical aircraft that can carry nuclear weapons and for the warheads they carry; $79 billion for nuclear weapons laboratories and their supporting activities; and $52 billion for nuclear-related command, control, communications, and early-warning systems. The totals of those four categories amount to $299 billion; CBO then added another $49 billion to account for cost growth in nuclear programs based on the average growth rates of similar programs in the past, states the report. The $348 billion estimate is $7 billion less than CBO’s assessment in December 2013 for the period between 2014 and 2023. That difference is due to factors since the initial assessment like the three-year delay to the Long Range Standoff missile, the planned successor to the AGM-86 cruise missile, states the report.