Preparing to Ride the Nuclear Bow Wave

The Pentagon and Energy Department late this decade will face a “bow wave” of significant cost to modernize components of the nation’s nuclear triad, said Maj. Gen. William Chambers, Air Staff lead for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration issues. “That bow wave kind of hits the nation . . . after the current FYDP that we are working on right now,” Chambers told an audience during his Oct. 28 speech on Capitol Hill. He was referring to the Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017 future years defense program. After Fiscal 2017, there will be “a steep, steep climb” in budgetary commitment necessary to develop and field items like the Air Force’s new nuclear-capable penetrating bomber and Navy’s new ballistic missile submarine, said Chambers. Tightening defense budgets will make that all the more difficult, he said. Accordingly, Chambers said there are efforts “under way now . . . to see what can be done with that bow wave.” This could mean trying to accelerate some projects while slowing others, he said. (For more from Chambers’ speech, read Leg Extension and No Wavering.)