LRS-B, LRSO Programs Vital to Power Projection

Both the Long-Range Strike Bomber and the Long Range Standoff missile, which will replace the Air Force’s Air Launched Cruise Missile, are key modernization programs to maintain the viability of the US nuclear triad, US Strategic Command boss Adm. Cecil Haney told the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel on Feb. 26. The responsiveness of the nation’s Minuteman III ICBMs, the survivability of the nuclear submarine fleet, and the flexibility of its bomber forces are what “we want our adversaries to contemplate if they decide to escalate their way out of a conflict,” Haney said, noting that modern weapon systems are critical to this calculation. In order to preserve both “strategic and conventional capability” in the future bomber force, it is important for the LRS-B program to move forward, he added. But that doesn’t negate the need for the LRSO, said Haney. The ALCM has already been extended and will time out between 2020 and 2030, but standoff nuclear strike is an important option to preserve in the nation’s triad, he told Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who questioned the need for both weapon systems. With potential adversaries growing anti-access and area-denial capabilities, maintaining these tools is important for both deterrent and offensive purposes, Haney added.