Air Force General Presses Case for Future Nuclear Bomber

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
June 19, 2014, 10:37 a.m.

An Air Force gen­er­al de­fen­ded plans to re­place the long-range U.S. bomber fleet, amid ques­tions on the pro­ject’s ne­ces­sity, the Wash­ing­ton Times re­ports.

“We need to ac­tu­ally have an un­emo­tion­al de­bate about what’s go­ing on and how we need to mod­ern­ize, and how we need to pro­tect Amer­ica from its only ex­ist­en­tial threat,” Maj. Gen. Gar­rett Har­en­cak said in com­ments re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day. Har­en­cak, the Air Force as­sist­ant chief of staff for stra­tegic de­terrence and nuc­le­ar in­teg­ra­tion, spoke weeks after a Con­gres­sion­al Re­search Ser­vice re­port ref­er­enced a num­ber of U.S. law­makers who see the na­tion’s aging bombers as “in­creas­ingly ir­rel­ev­ant.”

“Bombers are as needed today as they ever were,” ac­cord­ing to Har­en­cak, who ar­gued for de­vel­op­ing a new line of long-range strike bombers to re­place the coun­try’s cur­rent stra­tegic air­craft. The coun­try’s nuc­le­ar-cap­able bomber fleet now in­cludes the 24-year-old B-2 bomber and the 50-year-old B-52.

“We’re told the United States Air Force will keep the B-52 fly­ing till 2040,” he said. “[Are you] will­ing to send your grand­chil­dren in­to com­bat in 80-year-old air­planes and send them then to the depths of the sea in 55-year-old hulls?”

The new air­craft would of­fer “per­sist­ent, long-range strike cap­ab­il­it­ies that provide prac­tic­al al­tern­at­ives for glob­al se­cur­ity, re­gion­al sta­bil­ity in all phases of com­bat op­er­a­tions,” Har­en­cak said.

The of­ficer’s com­ments sug­gest the Air Force is push­ing to pre­vent any new post­pone­ment of the new bombers, ac­cord­ing to the Times. The ser­vice hopes to de­ploy 100 of the sys­tems by the middle of the next dec­ade.

Mean­while, the ser­vice said it plans to de­vel­op com­pon­ents for the next-gen­er­a­tion air­craft us­ing graphene, a very thin form of car­bon. Air Force Glob­al Strike Com­mand re­cently fi­nal­ized plans to part­ner with Louisi­ana Tech Uni­versity for the ini­ti­at­ive, ac­cord­ing to a Wed­nes­day press re­lease.

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