The new Air Force Global Strike Command (see above) will have charge of nuclear-capable bombers, but will provide the aircraft to any theater commander who requests them for conventional missions, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said Friday. Gen. Norton Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, said that Air Combat Command, at least for the time being, will have responsibility for setting requirements for the new 2018 bomber, although he acknowledged that the new aircraft would have a nuclear role. The commander of the soon-to-be-minted AFGSC will have responsibility for advocating new ICBM and nuclear-capable bombers. Gen. C. Donald Alston, who developed USAF’s new nuclear roadmap, said that the new command will provide nuclear-specific requirements to be used in developing the capabilities of the 2018 bomber. Donley also said the Global Strike commander may be involved in meeting any requirements for a conventionally armed ICBM, should the nation pursue one, but that US Strategic Command, which provides deterrence and global strike, would state any such requirements.
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.