The Task at Hand

It’s time to move the issue forward of whether the US should push ahead with a new nuclear weapon design called the Reliable Replacement Warhead, the general in charge of overseeing the nation’s nuclear triad said Tuesday. “I really do think that now is the time to act on this,” Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of US Strategic Command, told the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C. “This is not something we can continue either not to talk about or push down the road to future generations.” Chilton reiterated his position that he favors the RRW because it would be more maintainable and, as the name implies, reliable—two attributes that become increasingly important as the nation reduces the size of its nuclear arsenal. It would also have built-in safety and security features not included on the present generation of nuclear warheads. Chilton said there remain many questions on RRW, both from a technical and programmatic perspective. “That is one of the key studies, I think, that needs to be done here over the next year so that we can present early in the next administration a decision package where they can decide which way they want to go,” he said. (For more on RRW and nuclear deterrence read Not in My Lifetime)