The Air Force has made “significant strides” in assessing and modernizing the nation’s nuclear command, control, and communications network, stated Maj. Gen. William Chambers, who oversees nuclear matters on the Air Staff. “We have established a baseline NC3 architecture, identified capability gaps, and are focused on a prioritized investment strategy, concentrating on our senior leadership aircraft, our bomber fleet, and multiple cryptographic improvements,” said Chambers during a May 24 address on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Air Force Association, National Defense Industrial Association, and Reserve Officers Association. Modernizing the NC3 element has been a priority since many of its components are nearing the end of their lifecycles, service officials have said. “NC3 underpins US nuclear deterrence and provides our nation’s leaders with the means to manage and employ a wide range of strategic options for rapid power projection. It is especially important with lower force structure numbers,” Chambers told a Senate defense oversight panel in late March in written testimony.
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.