Let’s Get On With It:

The United States’ ability to build and test nuclear warheads is rapidly disintegrating, and must be revitalized, US Strategic Command chief Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton said. Chilton, addressing AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando late Thursday, said the US inventory of warheads for strategic weapons will all “age out” at the same time, in about 30 to 40 years, because the plutonium in them will by then have lost its ginger. Assuming the US wants to maintain an inventory of “about” 2,000 warheads, it would need to make at least 50 a year for the next 40 years, meaning construction would have to start immediately. However, Chilton said, the US has “no capability today” for the manufacture or test of such weapons, and the human expertise to do so has nearly all retired. “We need appropriate investments this year” to start turning the situation around, Chilton said. Just because it’s an unpleasant idea, “that doesn’t mean we don’t need to … get on with it,” he said. Chilton distinguished between the warheads and the delivery vehicles. An ICBM update is in the works, and “we’re in good shape” with the missiles themselves, he said.