A combined effort between the Air Force and Navy to develop a joint fusing firing circuit for intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles will save the Air Force about $600 million in unique development costs. Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, the Navy’s director of Strategic Systems Programs, said the joint fuse, with a target initial operational capability of 2019, is designed for both the Navy’s Trident missiles and the Air Force’s Minuteman III missiles. The Navy is the director of the development, but is working closely with the Air Force in “a perfect example of services doing something we’ve never done before,” Benedict said March 11 at an AFA, National Defense Industry Association, and Reserve Officer Association-sponsored symposium in Silverdale, Wash. Developing new programs together is “a way to maintain the [triad’s viability] in the future,” Benedict said. As the Air Force develops its next-generation Ground Based Strategic Deterrent to replace the Minuteman III, the Navy is looking to take those developments and implement them for the next Navy system, Benedict said. The Defense Department should not look specifically at developing just an Air Force system or a Navy system, but instead it should “deliver to this nation a triad of capability,” he said.
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.