Trident won’t become obsolete, but we can’t tell you why – Defense Sec

© Danny Lawson
Britain’s ageing fleet of Trident nuclear submarines will definitely not become obsolete, according to Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, but he says the reason he’s so confident is classified.

In a speech at the Policy Exchange think tank in London on Wednesday, Fallon laid out his thoughts on the Trident renewal debate at length, but would not go into detail on some of the research he cited to support his arguments.

Our confidence that submarines will not be rendered obsolete by technology is partly based on classified analysis…” he said, adding that other arguments for renewal were based on “obvious facts.

Fallon countered Labour’s argument that the UK’s four Vanguard-class nuke-bearing submarines would not be able to remain hidden in the oceans for much longer due to the advance of detection technology.

As practical as these objections appear, they are simply the latest in a litany of arguments employed to justify an anti-nuclear position,” he said.

Fallon said that issues of detection and surveillance were already factored into the military budget and denied that unmanned submarines presented a new threat.

We judge there is no inherent reason, for the foreseeable future, to believe that unmanned submarines will be more difficult to counter than manned submarines,” Fallon argued.

He also talked down the idea that cyber warfare presented a significant new threat to the boats given that they operate in isolation, detached from an internet connection.

It’s hard to think of a system less susceptible to cyber-attack,” he said.

In what some are viewing as rehearsal for the House of Commons debate on renewal, due to take place later this year, Fallon also attacked two other anti-Trident arguments: that unilaterally abandoning nukes would see allies and enemies do the same and that nuclear weapons were increasingly out of vogue.

Fallon said it was “frankly naive – even vainglorious” to think other nations would disarm if Britain chose to do so and insisted they would most likely see any such move “as weakness.

He also suggested it is worth inquiring if nuclear submarines were scrapped, why America, China, Russia and France would continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on submarine-based ballistic missile systems designed to protect their national interest.