Did the United States just send nuclear capable AEGIS missiles to Ukraine?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : US Sent Nuclear Capable AEGIS Missiles To Ukraine!
US Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently claimed that the US government sent nuclear capable AEGIS missiles to Ukraine!
In 2019 actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky ran as the peace candidate winning the Ukrainian presidency with 70% of the vote. As Benjamin Abelow observes in his brilliant book, “How the West Brought War to Ukraine,” Zelensky almost certainly could have avoided the 2022 war with Russia simply by uttering five words — “I will not join NATO.”
But pressured by NeoCons in the Biden White House, and by violent fascist elements within the Ukrainian government, Zelensky integrated his army with NATO’s and allowed the U.S. to place nuclear-capable Aegis missile launchers along Ukraine’s 1,200-mile border with Russia.
These were provocations that senior U.S. diplomats like post-WWII foreign policy architect George Kennan, former U.S. Defense Secretary Bill Perry, and former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock had long described as “red lines” for Russian leadership. Let’s face it, the Neocons wanted this war with Russia, just as they wanted war with Iraq.
He followed up by explaining that it’s because the AEGIS system is compatible with Tomahawk missiles which carry nuclear warheads.
The Aegis system advertises its tubes as compatible with Tomahawk missles which carry hydrogen bomb warheads with explosive power 10x the size of the Hiroshima bomb.
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Truth : US Did Not Send Nuclear AEGIS Missiles To Ukraine!
This is another example of MISINFORMATION shared by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : AEGIS Is An Anti-Ballistic Missile System
Let me begin by pointing out that AEGIS is a missile defence system that is designed to defend against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
In other words, AEGIS is not an offensive weapon. It is a defensive surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
Fact #2 : AEGIS Is Not Nuclear Capable
As a defensive missile system, there is no need for AEGIS missiles to be nuclear-capable. Hence, there are no nuclear-capable AEGIS missiles or AEGIS missile launchers.
It is ludicrous for any missile defence system to use nuclear-tipped missiles since they would necessarily intercept incoming ballistic missiles in mid-flight.
The resulting explosion would cause massive destruction to the ground below, which would likely be in the territory of the defending country!
Fact #3 : There Are No AEGIS Missile Systems In Ukraine
AEGIS missile systems are complex and require extensive training, and are only deployed by American and NATO forces. They are also primarily based on ships, although NATO decided to develop the land-based AEGIS Ashore in 2014.
The first AEGIS Ashore site was deployed operationally in Deveselu, Romania, in 2016, while the second site was opened in Redzikowo in Poland, in 2022. There are no other AEGIS Ashore systems in the world, and certainly none in the Ukraine.
It takes many years to develop an AEGIS Ashore site. Even if the US government decided to setup an AEGIS Ashore site in Ukraine today, it wouldn’t be operational for many more years to come!
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Fact #4 : AEGIS Is Not Compatible With Tomahawk
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. seems to be confusing the AEGIS missile system, with the Tomahawk cruise missile. They are both different systems. The AEGIS missile defence system is not compatible with the Tomahawk cruise missile system.
What he does not appear to understand is that ships that carry the AEGIS systems (AEGIS ships) use the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) which was upgraded to be backward compatible with other missiles. This allows the ships to use a standard canister launching system for different missiles.
Originally, the Mk 41 VLS was designed to fire the RIM-66 Standard missile used by the AEGIS system. But for greater flexibility, the launching system was upgraded to accommodate the larger canister used by Tomahawk missiles. The current Mk 41 VLS now accommodates a variety of different missiles:
- RIM-66 Standard
- RIM-67 Standard
- RIM-161 Standard Missile 3
- RIM-174 Standard ERAM
- RGM-109 Tomahawk
- RUM-139 VL-ASROC
- RIM-7 Sea Sparrow
- RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)
- Joint Strike Missile
While the launcher itself supports different missiles (which are stored in their own containers), the actual systems controlling those missiles are different. An AEGIS system for example, cannot fire Tomahawk missiles out of Mk 41 VLS launchers.
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Fact #5 : There Are No Operational Nuclear Tomahawk Missiles
It is true that Tomahawk cruise missiles were originally designed to accept nuclear warheads, but they were withdrawn long ago, and are no longer in service:
- BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Nuclear (TLAM-N) had a W80 nuclear warhead, but was retired from service by 2013.
- BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) had a W84 nuclear warhead, but was withdrawn from service in 1991 to comply with the INF Treaty.
There are currently no Tomahawk missiles with nuclear warheads in active service. So the claim that US deployed nuclear-capable Tomahawk missiles anywhere is nonsense.
Fact #6 : There Are Easier Ways To Attack Russia With Missiles
With heavy fighting on the frontlines in Ukraine, it doesn’t make sense for the US to deploy Tomahawk missiles, nuclear capable or otherwise, in that country.
For one thing, it would be taken as casus belli by Russia. Even if it chose not to escalate the war, it is easier for Russia to attack the AEGIS / Tomahawk missile launchers in Ukraine.
But more importantly, there are easier ways to hit Russia with Tomahawk missiles than deploying them in Ukraine, where Russian forces (including air defences) are deployed in great numbers.
It would be far easier and safer for the United States / NATO to attack Moscow (for example) using Tomahawk or other missiles deployed in Latvia or Estonia, which are both NATO members.
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Fact #7 : Robert F. Kennedy Jr Admitted He Was Wrong
Almost a week after he made those false claims, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. finally admitted that he was wrong. But even his correction reasserted the false claim that Russian fears of AEGIS precipitated the 2023 invasion of Ukraine.
Latvia and Estonia are NATO members, where AEGIS Ashore missile systems can potentially be installed, and Tomahawk systems deployed. Attacking Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, does not change that calculus.
This only goes to show how ill-prepared he is to be Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
ERRATA: Apologies for my earlier tweet reporting that the U.S. had installed nuclear-capable Aegis Missile systems in Ukraine. This was incorrect. The U.S. installed the Aegis batteries in Romania and Poland.
According to former top NATO military planner Col. Douglas Macgregor and historian Benjamin Abelow, the Russian government’s fear that the U.S. was about to install the same systems in Ukraine was one of several national security anxieties that motivated Russia’s 2022 invasion.
Russia had been deeply concerned that new U.S. missile systems, deployed as close as 400 miles from Moscow, could increase the chance that, in a crisis, the U.S. might believe it could carry out a decapitating preemptive first strike.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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