Stopping New START Confusion

The State Department recently released a fact sheet containing the aggregate numbers of US strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems based on the counting rules of the New START agreement with Russia. By our read, some of the numbers didn’t add up. According to the data, for example, the United States had a total of 22 B-2A stealth “heavy bombers,” including 11 “deployed” B-2s, nine “non-deployed” aircraft and two “test” assets. Trouble is, Northrop Grumman built only 21 B-2s and one of those was lost in a crash on Guam in 2008, meaning there’s only 20 B-2s to go around. However, there’s an explanation: Officials in the Air Staff’s nuclear directorate told the Daily Report that the fact sheet “correctly reflects the 20 B-2As accountable under the treaty.” It turns out that the two test assets are actually a subset of the “non-deployed” category. (The fact sheet does not make this clear . . . at all.) Accordingly, the nine non-deployed B-2s encompass the test airplanes as well as those aircraft in repair or in depot, according to the officials.