Fewer Nuclear Bombers, ICBMs

USAF will reduce its deployed force of 450 Minuteman IIIs by at least 30 missiles and convert at least 34 of its 94 nuclear-capable B-2As and B-52Hs to conventional-only roles under a new baseline nuclear force structure. The White House quietly announced these new levels May 13 when it submitted the New START Treaty to the Senate for ratification. Along with retaining "up to 420 deployed ICBMs, all with a single warhead" and "up to 60 nuclear-capable bombers," the US will maintain 14 strategic nuclear submarines. However, the Navy will reduce the number of launch tubes on each sub from 24 to 20, deploying only 240 nuclear ballistic missiles at any one time. The Administration said the new baseline "fully supports US security requirements and conforms to the New START limits." A senior defense official told Congress in April numbers of each system could be modified later. (White House release) (Nuclear force structure fact sheet)

Boeing Denies No-bid Rumor

Boeing’s tanker spokesman has denied a press report that the company may not submit a bid in the Air Force’s KC-X tanker contest out of concern that it could not prevail against an unfairly subsidized EADS or might not make...

Not Chump Change

The Obama Administration has told Congress that the US intends to invest more than $180 billion over the next decade in the nuclear weapons arsenal and supporting infrastructure. Of that, "well over $100 billion" would go toward nuclear delivery systems "to sustain existing capabilities and modernize some strategic systems," while $80 billion would be applied "to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex," according to the White House. President Obama released these figures on May 13 in a classified report sent to Congress accompanying the New START Treaty with Russia. Obama would like the Senate to ratify New START by year's end. Many Senators have coupled its ratification with the Administration having an articulate and properly funded nuclear modernization plan. The report, mandated by Congress, lays out that plan and also presents the nation's new reduced nuclear force structure (see Fewer Nuclear Bombers, ICBMs above). (White House fact sheet)

NATO Mulls Future

Adm. James Stavridis, US European Command boss and NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told defense writers Monday in Washington, D.C., that NATO’s efforts to define a new strategic concept this year is “a big deal” since the alliance’s last...

Ramstein’s C-130Js Make African Exercise Debut

Two of the new C-130J transports assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, recently deployed to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they are operating in support of Flintlock 10, a US Africa Command-sponsored multinational interoperability and capacity-building exercise....

Cyberspace, the Outlaw Sea

So says Adm. James Stavridis, head of United States European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, Europe. Speaking Monday with defense reporters in Washington, D.C., Stavridis said mankind’s relative lack of experience in operating in the cyber domain—compared, for example,...

Global Hawk Gets Repair Shop

Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it has received a $50 million contract from the Air Force to establish an interim repair line for RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft sensors until a fully independent depot-level repair program is in place...

Edwards Gets Test Equipment Boost

Engineers at Edwards AFB, Calif., have installed a first-of-its-kind aeronautical telemetry ground system at the Air Force Test Pilot School. The new system is expected to improve the ability of aircraft performance data to be transmitted to personnel on the...

Air Sorties from SWA 051110

Air Sorties in Southwest Asia, May 11, 2010 Sortie Type OIF OEF OIF/OEF Total YTD ISR 24 50 74 8,169 CAS/Armed Recon 20 74 94 12,205 Airlift 174 174 22,382 Air refueling 49 49 5,634 Rescue 44 44 2,020 Total...