The chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee issued a strong call Wednesday for strengthening US nuclear deterrence forces and ballistic missile defenses, noting growing capabilities developed by Russia, China, and others. “On the nuclear deterrent front, we probably have more reason for concern today than any time since the Soviet Union collapsed,” said Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Ala.).? Addressing an AFA and industry-sponsored breakfast, Rogers noted that in recent hearings Pentagon officials said nuclear deterrence was their highest priorities. “That’s one of few things DOD says I agree with,” he said. Those hearings made clear, “DOD will fund nuclear deterrent, and I’m confident Congress will support it.” But the best way to support these programs “would be to lift the arbitrary defense spending caps required by sequestration,” he said. Rogers rejected calls to reconsider the nuclear deterrent triad, calling it “as critically important today as it’s ever been.” He also stressed the need to develop new capabilities in missile defense, citing directed energy weapons, the electromagnetic railgun, the redesigned kill vehicle, and the next-generation multiple object kill vehicle. And that should include space-based defenses, he added, noting that Russia and China already have weaponized space.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.