Orlando, February 19, 2010—Air Force Global Strike Command, which assumed responsibility for the nation’s nuclear-capable bomber force a scant 18 days ago, will be a forceful advocate for long range strike capabilities. So said Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, AFGSC commander, at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium. USAF’s newest major command will ensure the small inventory of 76 B-52s and 20 B-2s receives necessary upgrades to remain effective until development of a next-generation LRS aircraft, Klotz said. The general, from an ICBM background himself, offered four predictions that should prove encouraging to bomber advocates. First, there will continue to be a need for LRS capabilities. Second, future systems that can go deep into enemy territory can also perform other missions—and probably will. Third, B-52s and B-2s will remain on active duty until a next-generation system is ready. And finally, as long as nuclear weapons are needed for US security, bombers will represent part of that force.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.