As the Air Force’s Air Launched Cruise Missile nears the end of its service life, “Clearly now’s the time to begin that effort to do the follow-on missile,” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command boss. A future standoff cruise missile is planned “within the long-range-strike family of systems,” Kowalski told reporters last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. He underscored that any new design must equally account for the unique demands of the nuclear as well as conventional missions. Air Force officials need to “make sure it’s matched with the right warhead . . . [and] has the command and control, and the nuke surety that we expect,” he said. Though much will depend on the shape of future aircraft that will carry the weapon, what is certain today is that the weapon must be stealthy, he said. “We’ll need to look at the anti-access, area-denial capabilities,” he explained, adding that the missile “needs to have the capability to do some penetration, obviously.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.