Global Strike Needs Modernization

Air Force Global Strike Command needs to “upgrade our current platforms that we have so that they can be persistent in war,” said commander Gen. Robin Rand at AWS17 on Thursday. “We can hold … any target on the planet at risk” in just a few hours, but because of adversary advances, “if we’re going to be able to do that five years from now, 10 years from now, there’s things we’ve got to do to our existing platforms,” said Rand. He insisted that the development and integration of the new B-21 bomber would not be enough “because we’re going to need to keep operating with the systems that we have.” As an example of the kind of quick global strike capability he wants to protect, Rand mentioned the Whiteman AFB, Mo., B-2s that bombed an ISIS training camp in Libya in January. He said the crews readied five aircraft within 36 hours, loading 400 weapons, refueling three aircraft en route, and dropping 100 weapons. The crew also got updated target conditions while en route. “That’s fusion,” said Rand, who emphasized that the information network capabilities of Global Strike are increasingly significant. He said he tells pilots who are deploying, “frankly, the least important thing you might do is drop a bomb. The most important thing you might do is provide a critical piece of ISR that’s going to save someone’s life.”