Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he does not anticipate the nation moving to a smaller sized B-52H bomber fleet as a consequence of the START follow-on agreement with Russia. “I do not foresee a reduction in B-52 force structure if there is an adjustment to nuclear tasking,” as part of the forthcoming arms control agreement, he said in response to questions from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). Thune said he was concerned over comments made in February by Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen indicating that bomber force reductions were under consideration. But in the event of a lower nuclear requirement for the BUFF fleet, Schwartz said the aircraft would still be needed in current numbers for their conventional taskings. The Air Force has 76 B-52s today, along with 66 B-1Bs and 20 B-2A bombers.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.