No Wavering

The Air Force—and the United States—”remain committed” to providing aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons to support NATO’s nuclear mission, said Maj. Gen. William Chambers, who oversees nuclear issues on the Air Staff. “There is nothing currently being considered to undo or change that commitment,” said Chambers during a Capitol Hill speech on Oct. 28. “We are a nuclear alliance. We believe in the deterrent force. We are going to help provide that.” However, some issues still are uncertain regarding that US force’s future shape, he said. Decisions regarding the integration of a modernized version of the B61 nuclear bomb on the F-35 strike fighter have slipped to the right due to the F-35’s overall schedule delays, said Chambers. “It is probably not” going to be resolved as part of the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017 budget program, he said. Further, there has been “no decision made yet” on the specific course of action for extending the B61’s life, he said. Chambers later told reporters that the Air Force’s current nuclear-capable aircraft for NATO—Europe-based F-15Es and F-16s—”remain very viable into the next decade and beyond. In fact, the F-15E will be viable with a nuclear-weapon-carrying capability into the mid 2030s.”