A nuclear warhead with a lower yield than that normally carried by the Trident missile has been taken out to sea by a U.S. Navy submarine, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The weapon, called the W76-2, allows the United States to respond to threats with a nuclear payload that is "prompt [and] more survivable," the Pentagon said. It was produced upon President Trump's request.
The warhead "strengthens deterrence and provides the United States a prompt, more survivable low-yield strategic weapon; supports our commitment to extended deterrence; and demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario," said undersecretary of defense for policy John Rood in a statement.
Some experts say the W76-2 is a valuable counter to Russia, which has strengthened and diversified its nuclear arsenal in recent years. The thought is that having only a large nuclear option could put the U.S. at a disadvantage, as leaders may hesitate to use it.