Not Just for F-35

Maintaining the schedule of the Pentagon’s life-extension program (LEP) for the B61 nuclear bomb, which calls for churning out the first modified B61s in 2017, is just as important for the B-2A stealth bomber and future strategic deterrence as it is for giving the F-35 strike fighter a nuclear capability for tactical roles, Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, US Strategic Command boss, said Wednesday. “A lot of folks are linking 2017 to F-35. We need the B61 in first production in 2017 regardless of the F-35 because the B61 also is a weapon that is used by the B-2, by our strategic deterrent,” he told the House Armed Services Committee. Regardless of slips to the F-35 program, Chilton said it’s crucial to keep the B61 LEP “on schedule.” (For more on B61 LEP, see the April 2010 nuclear posture review; caution, large file.) (Chilton’s prepared remarks)