Posts Tagged ‘Strategic Bombers’

Obama Could Curtail the Role of USAF’s Nuclear Bomber Fleet

November 21, 2008

The mighty B-52 Stratofortress bomber is still a cornerstone of America’s nuclear deterrent. Find this and other thrilling military aviation posters, framed art prints, and greeting card sets at The PatriArt Gallery — your one-stop destination for military and patriotic themed holiday shopping. Worldwide delivery available.

With President-elect Barack Obama intent on continuing the Bush administration’s plans to shrink the U.S. nuclear stockpile, that drawdown could significantly curtail the role that the Air Force’s nuclear bomber fleet plays in future deterrence strategies, according to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

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Defense secretary: Nuke capability critical to deterrence

October 31, 2008
Star of Abilene

Star of Abilene

B-1 Bomber “Star of Abilene” reminds us that power and beauty can go together. Put this beautiful and powerful instrument of American airpower on your wall. Buy the poster, framed art print, or 2009 calendar at The PatriArt Gallery

 

Calling nuclear weapons one of the world’s “messy realities,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here Oct. 28 that as long as others who could potentially threaten the United States possess or seek them, it’s critical that the United States does as well, and that they be kept safe, secure and reliable. 

“As long as others have nuclear weapons, we must maintain some level of these weapons ourselves,” Secretary Gates noted in a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

This, he said, “will deter potential adversaries while reassuring over two dozen allies and partners who rely on the U.S. strategic umbrella for their own security.”

The United States soon will have 75 percent fewer nuclear weapons than at the end of the Cold War, he said. But while endorsing more non-nuclear deterrence and response options, modern-day threats require the country to preserve what former President Bill Clinton called a “lead and hedge strategy.”

“We’ll lead the way in reducing our arsenal, but we must always hedge against the dangerous and unpredictable world,” he said. “The power of nuclear weapons and their strategic impact is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle, at least for a very long time. While we have a long-term goal of abolishing nuclear weapons once and for all, given the world in which we live, we have to be realistic about that proposition.”

The secretary cited threats posed by rising and resurgent powers, rouge nations pursuing nuclear weapons, proliferation and international terrorism.

“There is no way to ignore efforts by rogue states such as North Korea and Iran to develop and deploy nuclear weapons, or Russian and Chinese strategic modernization programs,” Secretary Gates said. “As long as other nations have or seek nuclear weapons — and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends — then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the United States in the nuclear arena, or with weapons of mass destruction, could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response.” 

The United States continues to keep the number of nuclear states as limited as possible, the secretary said, citing “real successes” during the past 45 years through nonproliferation and arms-control efforts. He noted that many countries have opted not to seek nuclear weapons, recognizing that the U.S. nuclear capability protects them.

“Our nuclear umbrella — our extended deterrent — underpins our alliances in Europe and the Pacific and enables our friends, especially those worried about Tehran and Pyongyang, to continue to rely on our nuclear deterrent rather than to develop their own,” he said.

But possessing nuclear weapons means accepting the responsibilities involved, Secretary Gates said, citing problems that arose last year over the Air Force’s handling of nuclear weapons and related material.

He cited remedies being put into place:
— A new office within the Air Staff will focus exclusively on nuclear policy and oversight and report directly to the Air Force chief of staff.
— The Air Force’s proposed Global Strike Command would bring all nuclear weapons and material supporting U.S. Strategic Command under one entity.
— The Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., has been revitalized and expanded, with clearly understood chains of command to prevent repeats of pass problems.
— The Air Force is undergoing a full review to provide better control of nuclear-related components, and placing them under the Nuclear Weapons Center’s control.
— A new, centralized process within the Air Force will ensure proper handling of nuclear material and provide expanded training for those charged with securing it.

Secretary Gates conceded the effort will be “a long-term process,” but said he is confident the Air Force “is now moving in the right direction.” He expressed thanks to the Airmen working to return the Air Force’s nuclear mission “to the standards of excellence for which it was known throughout the Cold War.”

Meanwhile, he said he looks forward to recommendations from a task force he formed to review nuclear enterprise oversight.

Secretary Gates confirmed that U.S. nuclear weapons are safe, secure and reliable, but said failure to look ahead to the future leaves a “bleak” long-term prognosis. No one has designed a new nuclear weapon in the United States since the 1980s, and veteran nuclear weapons designers and technicians are steadily moving into retirement, with no one following behind.

“The United States is the only declared nuclear power that is neither modernizing its nuclear arsenal nor has the capability to produce a new nuclear warhead,” Secretary Gates said. He also expressed concern that the country is not replacing its existing stockpile.

Congress’ refusal to fund a joint Defense Department and Energy Department program to field a safer, more secure warhead leaves the United States lacking, he said.

“The program we propose is not about new capabilities,” he said. “It is about safety, security and reliability. It is about the future credibility of our nuclear deterrent, and it deserves urgent attention.”

Donna Miles (AFPS)

Bomberpalooza

September 6, 2008

Find posters, framed prints, and calendar prints of B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers and other military aircraft at The PatriArt Gallery.

Catering to approximately 40 bomber fleet representatives, a bomber summit will be held at Tinker AFB (OK) Sept. 11 and 12.  Topics will include the health of the aircraft, sustainability, capability upgrades and modernization efforts. Additionally, Air Combat Command officials will present a bomber roadmap briefing and information about field-level maintenance and operation issues.

“Our bomber fleet is facing a number of challenges because of the age of the aircraft and the increased flying hours in support of the global war on terrorism,” said Col. Keith Weyenberg, 747th Aircraft Sustainment Group commander and point-of-contact for the summit. “These challenges are affecting our ability to meet the warfighter’s aircraft availability and sortie generation rates needed to support the war on terrorism.”

The summit is hosted by Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, 8th Air Force commander at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, 12th Air Force commander at Davis-Monathan AFB, Ariz.; and Maj. Gen. Loren Reno, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander.

According to planners, the concept of the summit began as an e-mail exchange to discuss the current state of the bomber fleet. E-mail traffic flowed between Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Gen. John Corley, ACC commander at Langley AFB, Va.

The bomber fleet includes the B-52 Stratofortress, which debuted in 1955; the B-1 Lancer, which was introduced to the Air Force in 1986; and the B-2 Spirit, which debuted in 1997. 

Sustainment of the entire fleet, approximately 180 aircraft, is managed at Tinker. Additionally, Tinker maintainers provide B-1 and B-52 depot maintenance. The B-2 depot maintenance is performed by Northrop Grumman specialists under a performance-based logistics contract in Palmdale, Calif.

Brandice Armstrong (AFPN)