The 2nd Bomb Wing, a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber unit at Barksdale AFB, La., earlier this month underwent its first no-notice nuclear surety inspection in more than 15 years. According to a release from Barksdale yesterday, more than 45 experienced inspectors scrutinized the wing’s operations for nine days starting Nov. 9, evaluating its technical operations, management and administration, security, logistics movement, safety, maintenance facilities, and supply support. No one said outright whether the wing passed the demanding inspection. But they did say the wing’s airmen performed professionally and demonstrated how seriously it takes its responsibilities. “This inspection highlighted our ability to be trusted stewards of incredible combat power,” said Col. Robert Wheeler, 2nd BW commander. Lt. Gen. Robert Elder Jr., commander of 8th Air Force under which the wing falls, added, “I am particularly proud of the 2nd Bomb Wing’s performance on this very tough inspection as well as their daily contributions as a ready, flexible, and adaptive deterrence force for our nation.” The Air Force has been ratcheting up the inspections. Intent on restoring excellence across the board in its nuclear stewardship, the service is leaving no margin for error in them. The 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., recently failed an inspection for some minor deficiencies. It is due to be retested within 90 days.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.