Strategic Cleansing

The first step as the Air Force begins implementing the nuclear force limits under New START will be to eliminate “phantom” strike platforms in the US inventory, said Gen. Robert Kehler, head of US Strategic Command. “There are some systems that would count under the definitions in the new treaty that are not in use,” he told reporters last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. This includes B-52G and -H bombers in storage at Davis- Monthan AFB, Ariz., and deactivated ICBM silos. Kehler said US officials “will take a hard look at making sure” that only “operational things count” under the treaty’s limits on deployed launchers (700) and total launchers (800) in order to maximize US nuclear delivery capability. Kehler said officials haven’t yet determined the precise number of total bombers or composition of the combined B-2/B-52 force, adding that they are carefully weighing requirements against the treaty. Though officials have discussed various numbers, there’s been “no final decision,” he said.