B-52 Denuclearization Set to Begin

Air Force Global Strike Command will begin denuclearizing 30 B-52H bombers to conventional-only configuration within the next nine months to meet limits under the New START agreement. “We’ll be starting that process and it’s basically going to be a box … it will be outboard visible … so you’ll be able to tell which ones are modified,” AFGSC boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said on Thursday. “We’ve already looked at it, tested it, and now [we] just need to get it in production,” he added at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. Under the New START agreement both the United States and Russia must cut nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed launchers, and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers by February 2018. Wilson said AFGSC will “easily make that” deadline and actually plans to meet New START limits by 2017, to give room for unexpected complications. “We?’re on a path both with the bombers and the ICBMs … but there’s still a significant amount of labor that has to be done,” he said.