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  • An EA-18G Growler takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf, 2019..

    An EA-18G Growler takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf, 2019..

Published 5 February 2020

Critics fear that after decades of nuclear disarmament to deter their deployment, the likelihood of their use may now increase.

The United States announced on Tuesday the deployment, for the first time, of a low-powered nuclear weapon on board a submarine, with the intention of dissuading Russia from using similar weapons.

Related: 

US Suspends Compliance on Nuclear Weapons Treaty with Russia

In this context, marked by the alarm of a large-scale conflict between the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. Navy deployed the W76-2 nuclear warhead on a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The W76-2 has an estimated explosive yield of five kilotons, compared to the yield of 455 kilotons and 90 kilotons of nuclear warheads already deployed on U.S. submarines.

"Potential adversaries like Russia believe that the use of low-powered nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners,", said a statement from Pentagon number two, John Rood, confirming information released by a group of experts from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

For the experts at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the W76-2 warhead, which has an estimated power of five kilotons  - three times less than the 15 kilotonnes of the Hiroshima bomb-, is  "a dangerous weapon based on poor strategic thinking”.

Critics fear that after decades of nuclear disarmament to deter their deployment, the likelihood of their use may now increase.

If a U.S. submarine is forced to launch a missile with a reduced nuclear charge, the enemy will have no way of knowing the power of the weapon headed toward it, which will pose a problem: the enemy could foresee the worst and respond with a high-powered nuclear weapon, they explain.

Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, who defines himself as a "democratic socialist", reacted reacently to this matter through his twitter account.

Furthermore, today two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers have flown autonomously controlled from a third manned aircraft, in the first such test for this electronic warfare specialized aircraft.

As part of the test conducted during a recent exercise at Patuxent River Naval Air Base (Maryland), the two fighter planes acted as drones, while a third manned Growler flew as a mission controller during the experiment, reported the manufacturer Boeing Co. in a statement.

The first test of this type showed that the EA-18G could be used as a "force multiplier" for real-life operations, increasing "survivability" and "situational awareness" for pilots "without increasing workload," said Tom Brandt, head of Boeing's unmanned and manned equipment demonstration.

"This technology allows the Navy to extend sensor range while keeping manned aircraft out of harm's way," he added.

This kind of escalation presupposes that the United States believes that a nuclear war can be won.

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