Standoff, Stealth, and Deterrence

The Long Range Standoff weapon, the ?notional follow-on to the AGM-86 nuclear cruise missile, is necessary to maintain the strategic potency of the nuclear-capable bomber fleet, said Adm. Cecil Haney, head of US Strategic Command. If the United States fielded only stealth bombers, “gravity bombs would solve everything,” said Haney on June 18 in a Capitol Hill speech that AFA sponsored, together with the Reserve Officers Association and National Defense Industrial Association. But as anti-access and area-denial defenses proliferate, the United States has to be able to deal with threats that will require a range of responses. While the B-2 fleet is stealthy, providing important penetrating capability, the reason the B-52 fleet still participates in strategic deterrence is “because it has standoff” weapons, said Haney. “We have to be careful with trying to balance capabilities,” he said. Just because the nation’s future bomber, the Long-Range Strike Bomber, will have “stealth characteristics,” this does not obviate the need for a standoff nuclear-capable weapon, he said. (For more from Haney’s talk, read The Russia Report from STRATCOM and Command and Control Critical to Strategic Deterrence.)