Just a little context on these two images. This is a bit of trolling, which is pretty normal for Billingslea who doesn't have much else to do these days. At least he's wearing a mask.
The object is a Mk 41 vertical launch system (VLS) rigged up like the one used for the ground-launched Tomahawk missile test flight to >500 km in August 2019. There is a placard with images of that test just to make sure you get the message.
This is probably Lockheed Martin's plant in Middle River, MD, which makes the Mk 41 VLS. Here's a picture of the ribbon-cutting in 2016.
news.lockheedmartin.com/2016-03-24-Loc… Image
This is not the plant that makes the Tomahawk missile, but rather the plant that makes the thing that launches it. The Mk 41 VLS is primarily used on ships, and can launch a variety of missiles. Here is a fact sheet.
lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lo…
The flags on the wall are Mk 41 VLS customers. The Saudi flag is freaking some people out, but Riyadh bought the VLS in 2014.
defense.gov/Newsroom/Contr…
So, just to be clear, the flags do NOT represent states that will be supplied with intermediate-range cruise missiles nor do they represent states that will host US intermediate-range cruise missiles. These are just countries with Navies that have purchased the Mk 41 VLS.

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More from @ArmsControlWonk

16 Oct
No one should be surprised by orbital bombardment, although the glider is a nice touch. The Soviets deployed an orbital bombardment system in the 1970s. This is an old concept that is newly relevant as a way to defeat missile defenses.
I wrote a short thread last month on why I think orbital bombardment makes sense for Russia, China and North Korea -- especially if gliders mean they can improve accuracy.
But really, I've been banging on about orbital bombardment for several years now. It's obvious: The US put a missile defense system in Alaska to defend against missiles coming over the North Pole. What did you think Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang will do? Just give up?
Read 5 tweets
10 Oct
"I am concerned that using a dead drop location your friend prepares makes me very vulnerable."

No shit, dude.

justice.gov/opa/press-rele…
"I must consider the possibility that l am communicating with an adversary who has intercepted my first message and is attempting to expose me. Would not such an adversary wish me to go to a place of his choosing, knowing that an amateur will be unlikely to detect surveillance?"
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct
Glad to see the Biden Administration resuming the Obama-era practice of being transparent about the size of the US nuclear stockpile. A thread.
Funny story. George W. Bush dramatically reduced the size of the nuclear stockpile -- but never took credit for it because the stockpile size was secret. He cut the stockpile in half and then by a further 15 percent.
Bush's record on reducing the size of the US nuclear stockpile is excellent. But no one knew it. There were even stories that he had slowed the pace of dismantlement, stories that turned out to be false. The moral to the story is that doing the right thing isn't always enough.
Read 15 tweets
21 Sep
Still waiting on the transcript of Kendall's remarks, but I don't think we should dismiss the possibility of countries developing orbital bombardment systems, including China and North Korea. A short thread.
The Soviet Union developed a "fractional orbital bombardment system" (FOBS) in the 1960s. The Soviets deployed this system from 1969-1983. @historyasif wrote the best article on Soviet FOBS.
static1.squarespace.com/static/5ef8124…
(A word about the "F" in FOBS. The Soviets added "fractional" because, as a party to the Outer Space Treaty, it agreed "not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons..." It's a polite fiction.)
Read 13 tweets
17 Sep
I've noticed that some people are expressing skepticism that the DPRK could have acquired or developed a 1,500 km-range land-attack cruise missile. TL/DR: It's not 1978 any more.
A short thread.
Starting in 2014, North Korea showed ship-based copies of Russia's Kh-35 cruise missile. In 2017, North Korea test-fired a land-based variant of the Kh-35, called the Kumsong-3.
The Kh-35, also known as the Kharpunski, is a fairly capable 130 km-range cruise missile developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It used the R-95-300 turbofan engine. (The engine produces 300-400 kgf of thrust and weighs 95 kg).
Read 9 tweets
16 Sep
North Korea appears to be expanding the size of the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon by about 25 percent. @DaveSchmerler, @Joshua_Pollack and I think this may relate to growing weapons requirements for highly-enriched uranium.
"US officials acknowledge," @ZcohenCNN writes "those developments could signal plans to increase production of weapons-grade uranium, according to two sources familiar with the situation."
cnn.com/2021/09/16/pol…
Why now? In January, Kim Jong Un announced that "continuously push ahead with the production of super-sized nuclear warheads." That means thermonuclear weapons --and secondaries require a *lot* of HEU.
Read 4 tweets

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