No Air Force Nuclear Reductions in Fiscal 2013

Cuts to the Air Force’s nuclear-capable bomber and ICBM forces to meet the United States’ commitments under the New START agreement with Russia will not begin next fiscal year, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Under the terms of the treaty, the United States must reduce its strategic nuclear arsenal to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 total launchers (i.e., long-range ballistic missiles and bombers) by February 2018; 700 of the launchers may be in deployed status at any given time. “The bottom line is that there are still decisions pending on how to go about reaching those New START central targets,” Schwartz told reporters during a Pentagon briefing on Jan. 27. He continued, “I would expect that would unfold in the [Fiscal 2014] program.” Schwartz reiterated what has been a consistent message from Air Force senior officials: maintaining a triad of bombers, ICBMs, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles becomes more important as the strategic deterrent becomes smaller in size because “the diversity, the variety, the attributes associated with each leg of the triad actually reinforce each other to a greater degree.” (Schwartz transcript)