Streamlining the Nuclear Stockpile

The Air Force and Navy are proceeding with a long-term strategy dubbed “three plus two” to streamline the care and sustainment of the nation’s nuclear warhead stockpile, Billy Mullins, associate director of strategic deterrence and nuclear integration on the Air Staff, told the Daily Report on Wednesday. Currently, the stockpile features some 12 variants of warheads—including five alone for the B61 nuclear bomb—said Mullins in a Jan. 16 interview. Under the new strategy, the two services will bring this number down to five: three warheads shared between Air Force and Navy ballistic missile systems (with requirements coordinated between the services), and two warhead types for nuclear-capable bombers and dual-capable fighters, he said. “These variants, long term, will take us well into the 21st century,” said Mullins. The joint Defense Department-Energy Department Nuclear Weapons Council signed off on the strategy in December, noted Mullins. The strategy has been briefed to Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and is now going through the budgeting process with all stakeholders involved, he said.