The Air Force expects to move its Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) missile program into the technology maturation and risk reduction phase with a Milestone A decision within the next two weeks, Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein told lawmakers Thursday. The Air Force accelerated the replacement for the air-launched cruise missile by two years, but members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern during Goldfein’s nomination hearing, saying the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize the Air Force’s legs of the strategic triad were falling behind. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said Defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall has deferred reaching Milestone A decisions for the LRSO and Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) programs. “I worry that this is inconsistent with the President’s commitment [to modernize] and could delay the fielding of these critical replacements.” Goldfein, who currently serves as the Vice Chief of Staff, said the service also expects to issue a request for proposal for the GBSD—the planned replacement for the Minuteman III ICBM—within the next two weeks, and a Milestone A decision is expected in August.
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.