The Senate Armed Services Committee is strongly urging the Air Force Secretary to reopen a second weapons storage area for its Air Launched Cruise Missiles. These missiles, carried by B-52H bombers, are a key component of the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent. “A reconstituted second WSA could enhance the resiliency of the bomber force, provide redundancy in a critical national security mission, and reduce operational risk,” states the report accompanying the Senate’s draft version of the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill. The Air Force operates a WSA at Minot AFB, N.D., and had planned, as part of the revitalization of its nuclear enterprise, to reopen the one that it had shuttered at Barksdale AFB, La., in 2007. However, back in February 2011, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Congress that the Air Force was abandoning that plan due to budget constraints. But SASC members want the Air Force to reconsider that decision. “As the United States reduces its deployed nuclear forces in the coming years, . . . the resiliency and survivability of the nation’s enduring strategic nuclear deterrent assumes a new level of importance,” states the report, issued the first week of June. (SASC report; caution, large-sized file.)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.