Carter, Dempsey Support New Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missile

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey supported development of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile and the updated warhead for it, both of which were challenged during a Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel Wednesday. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), former chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, said she understands the need for the Long-Range Strike Bomber, but did not understand why the Air Force wanted to spend an estimated $1.8 billion for the new cruise missile and a like amount to refurbish the W80 nuclear warhead to arm it. She said the program “undermines our commitment to nuclear reduction.” Carter said developing the Long Range Standoff missile, which is expected to replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile by 2025, was a “recognition that air defenses were improving around the world.” The W80 warhead is old and “it too needs work,” he said. “I hope we can accommodate both.” Dempsey said the new missile is part of the effort to sustain the nuclear triad of bombers, land- and sea-launched ICBMs. “All the [service] chiefs support the triad to maintain our deterrence,” he said. The new missile would allow Air Force bombers to strike targets from outside the reach of ground-based air defenses.