It wouldn’t serve US nuclear deterrence—or nonproliferation—goals to modernize the B83 nuclear gravity bomb in place of the B61, said senior Defense Department and Energy Department officials last week. The megaton-class B83 is a “relic of the Cold War,” Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for Global Strategic Affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel on Oct. 29. “We need the ’61” for maintaining a credible forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapon for NATO, and also for providing an extended deterrent to Asian allies, she said. “The B61 is the best of the choices to go forward,” said Gen. Robert Kehler, head of US Strategic Command, at the same hearing. They were responding to questioning from Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who argued it might make sense to invest in keeping the comparatively newer B83 viable instead of the B61, one of the oldest nuclear weapons in the US stockpile. Garamendi was concerned about the estimated cost—more than $10 billion—of the Obama Administration’s planned B61-12 Life Extension Program. He also questioned the need for maintaining tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Click here to continue to the full report.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.