Budget Reaffirms Commitment to Nuclear Enterprise

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2016 budget request, released on Monday, reaffirms the Air Force’s commitment to sustaining and modernizing the nuclear enterprise. The budget invests in the ICBM fuze replacement and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent flight system development. It continues incentive pay for certain nuclear career fields and funds various security upgrades, such as the replacement of the nuclear warhead payload transporter van and the addition of cameras at the missile fields, according to budget documents. The request also fields a replacement to the Vietnam-era UH-1N helicopter fleet by purchasing Army UH-60A Black Hawks for conversion to the UH-60L configuration. The budget proposal helps fill a manpower gap in the nuclear enterprise by funding 1,120 additional military and civilian billets as well as 158 technical and engineering staff positions at Hill AFB, Utah, to support the GBSD initiative and the Minuteman III infrastructure recapitalization effort. On the nuclear-capable bomber side, the budget funds upgrades to the B-52, including the Combat Network Communication Technology system, modifications to the bomber’s internal weapons bay to allow for carrying smart weapons, and changes to the aircraft’s external pylons to carry smart weapon decoy-jammer and standoff missile technologies. The budget also funds the B-2 defensive management systems modernization, the common very low frequency/low frequency receiver, and flexible strike programs. It also funds nuclear command, control, and communications upgrades. (See also Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Overview document and Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Rollout Briefing slides; caution, both are large-sized files.)?