Especially in light of the New START arms reduction treaty, the Air Force—with stewardship of both ICBMs and nuclear bombers—must continually underscore the need to sustain the nuclear Triad. “As we implement New START and reduce the number of deployed warheads the importance of the triad increases,” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike command boss. “Technical problems or operational vulnerabilities may place an unsustainable burden on the remaining force … when that element makes up half or more of our deterrent,” highlighted Kowalski, emphasizing the importance of nuclear diversification. “Our Triad is not redundant, it is complementary and provides options and flexibility against an uncertain future,” he said addressing AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Tuesday afternoon. While ICBMs are responsive and “vulnerable only to direct nuclear attack,” bombers are flexible, providing an escalating range of “options to demonstrate resolve and reassure allies,” he added.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.