Raytheon Makes Nuclear War More Likely

Peace Advocate August 2022

Cartoon: Joe Kandra

by: Richard Krushnic, Kathleen Malley-Morrison  

Raytheon Technologies is even more horrifying than you thought. Its complicity in decades of the slaughter of innocent Yemeni men, women, and children by producing the guided bomb used more than any weapon by the Saudis in Yemen may be a dim preview of the omnicide to come if Raytheon Technologies and other builders of nuclear weapons continue profiteering from the development and production of the new generation of these weapons of mass destruction. With the targeting and refueling assistance of the U.S., the Saudi’s U.S. planes attack fields, flocks, irrigation pumps, and water and sewage facilities to produce mass disease and starvation in Northern Yemen. But localized genocide pales in comparison to the more likely omnicide that would result from the rapidly increasing likelihood of nuclear war.

The first generation of nuclear weapons targeted Russia’s nuclear weapons and command and control systems. Russia’s weapons targeted similar sites in the US, resulting in mutually assured destruction (MAD), deterring either side from using their nukes. But the new generation of nukes emphasizes nukes for actual tactical use on the battlefield. All nuclear warfighting simulations to date show that tactical battlefield nuke use always quickly escalates to nuclear war that produces years-long nuclear winter, which starves a significant portion of the world’s population to death. Russia has warned that if the U.S. provides Ukraine with modern jets, it may respond by launching tactical nuclear weapons.

Make no mistake about it. The weapons being made by Raytheon Technologies and financed through our taxes are deadly beyond anything you ever imagined. The profits of Raytheon are extraordinary, because most of the contracts are non-competitive, scarcely audited single-source contracts guaranteeing monopoly profits; in recent years the firm has been regarded as the most successful lobbyist among the largest military firms—symbolized by the last two Secretaries of Defense being a Raytheon lobbyist and a Raytheon board member. Their nuke-profiteering also helps finance the media campaigns designed to perpetrate a humongous fraud—the deliberately misleading message that the new generation of nukes makes us safer; when the truth is that it makes Armageddon far more likely than ever before.

How Raytheon and other nuke-profiteers get what they want

Within the military-industrial-Congressional complex, Raytheon has some extremely cozy and mutually profitable relationships. For example, in 2020, the United States spent $37.4 billion on nuclear weapons. Leading up to those expenditures, the 21 major nuclear weapons producers, including Raytheon, spent $117 million in lobbying Congress on behalf of their firms. For every $1 they spent lobbying, an average of $236 in nuclear-weapons-contract money came back to them. Currently, the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is undergoing final revision, would set spending for the Pentagon and related activities, including work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy, at an astonishing $850 billion. About a third of these generous bestowals go to the military firms that develop, produce, maintain, and upgrade weapons systems throughout their operational life; while budgets for health, education, welfare, and the environment continue to be robbed.

Current products of Raytheon’s nuke-profiteering

In 2021, Raytheon secured a $2 billion, 6-year development contract for the nuclear long-range standoff missile (LRSO), which will be the air-launched leg of the new US strategic nuclear triad strategy. Raytheon is expected to get the follow-on production contract, which should be at least 6 times as large. Raytheon is expected to receive significant subcontracts for communications and guidance and control systems for the new-gen land-based leg of the triad—the GBSD (Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent), replacing the Minuteman missile in missile silos in 5 US states; and in the upgraded Trident II missiles that will continue to be used in the new-gen sea-based leg—the Columbia Submarines. All new-gen nuclear warfare weapons systems are, of course, in violation of the U.N. nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the recent global Treaty on the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), approved by over 60 nations. 

Several former top Pentagon and Congressional Armed Services Committee leaders, including, for example, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, consider the LRSO to be a weapon making nuclear war much more likely because it could be an effective first-strike weapon. It’s designed to find its target with pinpoint accuracy, even when an enemy renders its GPS homing inoperable, and it’s designed to disable and/or evade complex, integrated defense systems. Launched from patrolling aircraft not far from targets, it would give an enemy only 10-15 minutes to launch a counterstrike and no way of knowing if the missile had a conventional or nuclear warhead. 

Raytheon also makes the SM-3 anti-missile missile, the most effective and most widely deployed anti-missile system in the world for defending against short- and medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles. Already deployed in Romania and set to be active in Poland later this year, the SM-3 is launched from Mk-21 tubes, which can also launch nuclear-tipped Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles. These missile emplacements, part of the NATO eastward march, contributed to Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. Raytheon’s SM-3 makes nuclear war more likely, because if Russia fears the SM-3 and other U.S. anti-missile missiles could effectively shoot down Russian nuclear missiles, the U.S. may infer that it could launch a first strike and shoot down enough retaliating Russian missiles to start a nuclear war and win. Such speculations make Russia more likely to fire their nuclear missiles when systems erroneously indicate that the US has launched a missile. 

There have been numerous cases in the past when systems falsely indicated launches by one side or the other, but wisdom prevailed, and counter-launches did not happen. In those cases, launches could be detected up to a half hour before impact. Several new-gen systems would give only 10-15 minute warnings to consider whether to counter-launch. If the U.S. snuck nuclear-tipped Raytheon Tomahawks into the Romanian and Polish Raytheon SM-3 launch tubes on the Russian border, they would be 10 minutes or less from key Russian targets. Think of the Russian missile crisis of 1962, with Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba.

All of the systems that could reach Russian targets in 15 minutes or less—the LRSO, Tomahawk, and Trident could use the B21-12 warhead—already on Trident submarines. It has a dialable yield, from 1/45th the size of the Hiroshima blast to 3.3 times the size of that blast, and pinpoint accuracy. It is designed for the tactical battlefield as well as strategic warfighting. It is these new tactical nukes that make nuclear war most likely. If the U.S. gives modern jets to Ukraine, Russia might use similar tactical nukes on the battlefield.


Raytheon’s nuke-profiteering is not going altogether unnoticed by the tax-paying public—or by the poor and working classes whose lives are devalued by the rich and powerful. A few examples: On December 10, 2021, in Dallas, Texas, in observance of International Human Rights Day and in support of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), North Texas anti-war activists gathered in front of the Raytheon building to demand accountability regarding war industry profiteers and an end to the weapons of war they manufacture. In Asheville NC, a group called Reject Raytheon AVL works tirelessly “to educate the community about the role of Raytheon and other military contractors, including their influence in wars, climate change, nuclear weapons, and environmental damage”. On May 28, 2022, six members of the Bread & Roses Affinity Group blocked the driveway of the Raytheon Systems corporation plant in Andover, Massachusetts, a plant that makes guidance systems for the Tomahawk cruise missiles. Internationally, Norway’s largest pension company sold holdings totaling $147 million in companies including Raytheon Technologies due to the corporation’s involvement in the development and sales of “weapons” such as nuclear armaments.

What you can do

To help promote nuclear disarmament, you can engage in a number of forms of activism aimed at confronting the lucrative mutually-reinforcing connections between the arms industry and the governmental organizations that profit from supporting bills that finance nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. You can join organizations such as Mass Peace Action, ICAN, and more. You can sign the petitions and join the rallies and marches sponsored by such organizations, You can attend—and even help organize—rallies and demonstrations at Raytheon’s site in Andover or their headquarters in Cambridge. Don’t be shy. Your life and the life of your children and grandchildren may depend on people like you confronting war-mongering, nuclear-weapons profiteering members of the military-industrial complex like Raytheon Technologies.


—Richard Krushnic is a long-time researcher of military production and imperial U.S. foreign policy and overt covert warfare.  He is also a professional in public financing of community economic development in the U.S. and Latin America.

— Dr. Kathie Malley-Morrison is a professor emerita of psychology at Boston University, specializing in peace studies and in life-span human development.