STRATCOM chief: Upgrades needed for nuclear weapon arsenal, Global Strike fleets
By Brian Everstine
July 24, 2013
The head of U.S. Strategic Command today urged an end to the gridlock that has delayed long-overdue upgrades to the nation’s nuclear arsenal and the aircraft fleet that protects them.
“We find ourselves in a position today that most of the platforms and all of the weapons are well over 20 years old,” Gen. Robert Kehler told reporters.
A top priority for upgrades: the bombs themselves. The Defense Department is moving forward on upgrades and service life extension programs for the B-61 nuclear gravity bomb, which was first developed in the 1950s and produced in the 1960s. The bomb will be the primary nuclear bomb for the B-2 Spirit and the next-generation bomber and is “essential” to a credible deterrent force, Kehler said.
The command is looking to have one variant of the weapon, and to combine electronics upgrades and service-life extension programs into one process to save money, Kehler said. The upgrades would keep the bomb flying, and would be necessary for it to be carried on the F-35 or upgraded B-2s, officials said.
But the push for upgrades has met opposition.
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