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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