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​A missile maintenance team at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., removes the upper section of an ICBM at a Montana missile site. Air Force photo by Airman John Parie.

​Modernization of the US nuclear forces will cost $400 billion between 2017-2026, according to a new estimate prepared by the Congressional Budget Office and released in a report on Tuesday. That estimate was $52 billion dollars, or 15 percent, higher than two years ago, which was the last time CBO estimated the cost of nuclear modernization. The largest rise in projected cost across the nuclear triad came in the ICBM program, which CBO estimated would cost $43 billion over 10 years, or $16 billion more than in its 2015 report. The difference is largely due to the Air Force’s announcement of details related to a new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, for which USAF released an RFP in late July 2016. The new CBO report says that its 2015 estimate “assumed that existing missiles would be refurbished rather than replaced.” Despite the hefty price tag, the US can’t afford not to modernize its nuclear forces, according to a late January report by AFA’s Mitchell Institute. During the report’s roll out, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), co-chairman of the Senate ICBM coalition, said once modernized, however, the ICBM force is the least expensive of all three legs of the nuclear triad to operate.