US needs to spend $18 billion per year for 15 years starting 2021 to modernize nuclear stockpile and the weapons and vehicles.
"We've developed a plan to transition our aging system. Carrying out this plan will be an expensive proposition. It is projected to cost DoD an average of $18 billion a year from 2021 through 2035," Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said during last week’s hearing on nuclear deterrence.
"The only existential threat to our nation is a nuclear attack. Nuclear weapons remain the most important mission we have," he added.
Work explained that keeping the country's nuclear enterprise modernized is especially important in light of the advancements made by Russia and China.
The US Navy and Air Force have already seen problems creep up with operations and morale within their nuclear forces. Both services faced cheating scandals in recent years. The Air Force's two top leaders were fired in 2008 after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates faulted the leaders for losing focus on the nuclear mission.
The Pentagon is already pursuing several acquisition efforts to boost the nuclear triad, but many have high price tags and the Air Force and Navy are trying to figure out how to pay for them under restricted budgets.