Carter Presses Case for LRSO

Kirtland AFB, N.M. Much like the rest of the military’s nuclear arsenal, the Defense Department must move ahead on the Long-Range Standoff Weapon to ensure a credible deterrent and the ability to penetrate a denied area, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. Speaking at the home of the Air Force’s Nuclear Weapons Center, Carter said the LRSO is needed because the current Air Launched Cruise Missile is too old to keep a safe and ready deterrent in the future. Carter this week visited Kirtland and Minot AFB, N.D., to highlight the need to rebuild the military’s aging nuclear infrastructure. On Monday, Carter visited a nuclear weapons storage facility at Minot where airmen work on the ALCM. The cruise missile fleet there maintains a high readiness rate—a mission capable percentage of about 98 percent —because of intense maintenance where “every screw” counts, airmen at the base said. Some component manufacturers aren’t around, and the airmen have even considered 3D printing components. The missiles were manufactured in the 1980s and were originally expected to stick around for just a decade, but are now projected to be in service beyond 2030. (For more about the nuclear force, read the editorial in the September issue of Air Force Magazine: 21st Century Peace Through Strength.)