Dec. 8 marks the 25th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev signing the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. That agreement, which entered into force on June 1, 1988, led to the elimination of each nation’s ground-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers within three years. US Ground Launched Cruise Missiles and Pershing II ballistic missiles and Soviet SS-20 mobile ballistic missiles were among the 2,692 missiles destroyed under the agreement, according to the State Department’s narrative and full treaty text. “At the time of its signature, the treaty’s verification regime was the most detailed and stringent in the history of nuclear arms control, designed both to eliminate all declared INF systems entirely” and “to ensure compliance with the total ban on possession and use of these missiles,” states the narrative. (See also The Short, Happy Life of the Glick-Em from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)
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.