October 30, 2013
By Pat Host
While the B83 nuclear gravity bomb could accomplish the same tasks as the B61, the B61 is the better investment for future United States nuclear deterrence, the head of the Defense Department’s strategic forces said yesterday.
U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) chief Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler told a House panel yesterday the B83 has drawbacks including a “high yield.” Kehler said the Pentagon is trying to pursue weapons that would have less collateral effect if the president ever had to decide to use one.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that both from a military standpoint and from a standpoint of future safety, security and surety of the stockpile that the B61 is the best of the choices going forward,” Kehler told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee.
Kehler, along with Assistant Defense Secretary for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Donald Cook and Sandia National Laboratories Director Paul Hommert largely defended DoD’s choice of the B61 for a life extension program (LEP). The B61 LEP is under scrutiny for its escalating cost at a time of fiscal belt-tightening and President Barack Obama’s declaration of further nuclear arms reductions. Kingston Reif, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, estimated in June that DoD wants to produce 400 refurbished B61 “Mod 12s” at a total price of $10 billion, which comes out to $25 million per weapon.
Click here to read the article behind the Defense Daily paywall.