Center for Arms Control

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Information on the Nuclear Triad

The United States maintains three different types of delivery systems for nuclear warheads that are described as synergistic:

  • On land, with intercontinental ballistic missiles
  • At sea, with nuclear-powered submarines
  • In the air, with long-range nuclear bombers

Each of the three legs has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of speed, cost, vulnerability to attack, whether the system can be recalled once launched and more. Read our updated fact sheet on the pros and cons of missile, submarines, and bombers here.

All three legs of the triad are edging toward the end of their useful lives and at some point in the near-future, all three legs will need to be replaced – or eliminated.

Sea-Based Leg

Land-Based Leg

Air-Based Leg

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