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US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

(Source: Marcus Weisgerber/DefenseOne)
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.

This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,

Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission.

I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.

Goldfein and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come. That decision would be made by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command. STRATCOM is in charge of the military’s nuclear forces and NORTHCOM is in charge of defending North America.

Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces.

Goldfein, who is the Air Force’s top officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is asking his force to think about new ways that nuclear weapons could be used for deterrence, or even combat.

The world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons,

he said.

It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union. We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right.

During his trip across the country last week, Goldfein encouraged airmen to think beyond Cold War uses for ICBMs, bombers and nuclear cruise missiles.

I’ve challenged…Air Force Global Strike Command to help lead the dialog, help with this discussion about ‘What does conventional conflict look like with a nuclear element?’ and ‘Do we respond as a global force if that were to occur?’ and ‘What are the options?’

he said.

How do we think about it — how do we think about deterrence in that environment?

Asked if placing B-52s back on alert — as they were for decades — would help with deterrence, Goldfein said it’s hard to say.

Really it depends on who, what kind of behavior are we talking about, and whether they’re paying attention to our readiness status,

he said.
Already, various improvements have been made to prepare Barksdale — home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service’s nuclear forces — to return B-52s to an alert posture. Near the alert pads, an old concrete building — where B-52 crews during the Cold War would sleep, ready to run to their aircraft and take off at a moment’s notice — is being renovated.

Inside, beds are being installed for more than 100 crew members, more than enough room for the crews that would man bombers positioned on the nine alert pads outside. There’s a recreation room, with a pool table, TVs and a shuffleboard table. Large paintings of the patches for each squadron at Barksdale adorn the walls of a large stairway.

One painting — a symbol of the Cold War — depicts a silhouette of a B-52 with the words “Peace The Old Fashioned Way,” written underneath. At the bottom of the stairwell, there is a Strategic Air Command logo, yet another reminder of the Cold War days when American B-52s sat at the ready on the runway outside.

Those long-empty B-52 parking spaces will soon get visits by two nuclear command planes, the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury, both which will occasionally sit alert there. During a nuclear war, the planes would become the flying command posts of the defense secretary and STRATCOM commander, respectively. If a strike order is given by the president, the planes would be used to transmit launch codes to bombers, ICBMs and submarines. At least one of the four nuclear-hardened E-4Bs — formally called the National Airborne Operations Center, but commonly known as the Doomsday Plane — is always on 24-hour alert.

Barksdale and other bases with nuclear bombers are preparing to build storage facilities for a new nuclear cruise missile that is under development. During his trip, Goldfein received updates on the preliminary work for a proposed replacement for the 400-plus Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the new long-range cruise missile.

Our job is options,

Goldfein said.

We provide best military advice and options for the commander in chief and the secretary of defense. Should the STRATCOM commander require or the NORTHCOM commander require us to [be on] a higher state of readiness to defend the homeland, then we have to have a place to put those forces.

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Oshkosh Defense Announces Two Orders Totalling $235.2 Million

Oshkosh Defense Announces Two Orders Totalling $235.2 Million

OSHKOSH (Wisconsin, the USA), May 25, 2018, Author: Galina Zdravkova, Photo: Wikipedia

The tactical vehicle manufacturer, Oshkosh Defense, announced on 23rd May 2018 that it was awarded two delivery orders at the total amount of $235.2 million from the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM). The scope of the agreement includes recapitalisation of vehicles in the heavy vehicle fleet of the U.S. Army, reported Shephard Media.

The recapitalisation of the vehicles in the army’s Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and Palletised Load Systems (PLS) fleets will involve upgrading to the latest configuration and the same zero-mile, zero-hour condition as new vehicles.

Under the contract 410 vehicles will be recapitalised and 680 new PLS trailers will be manufactured. Deliveries will start in the Fiscal Year 2019.

“The mark of any good investment is its ability to withstand the test of time. The longevity of the HEMTT and PLS fleets combined with the durability of the platform attest to the value of these mission critical vehicles,” said Pat Williams, VP and general manager of army and marine corps programmes for Oshkosh Defense.

More than 13,000 HEMTT and 3,000 PLS has been recapitalised by Oshkosh Defense since 1995.
The Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) is an eight-wheel drive, diesel-powered with weight of 9,100 kg.

The Palletized Load System (PLS) is designed to carry ammunition and other critical supplies.

Photo: U.S. Army soldiers unload a Mk2 Bridge Erection Boat from a M1977A2 CBT HEMTT into the Missouri River

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Bulava ICBMs Were Test Fired from the Yury Dolgorukiy Submarine

Bulava ICBMs Were Test Fired from the Yury Dolgorukiy Submarine

MOSCOW (Russia), May 25, 2018, Author: Bm News Team, Photo: Wikipedia (K-535 Yuri Dolgorukiy at sea trials)

On 22nd May 2018 four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were test fired from the Yury Dolgorukiy nuclear submarine of Russia. The test was successful. That was announced by the military in a statement, which was quoted by the state news agencies, reported Shephard Media.

The missiles were fired from the submerged Yury Dolgorukiy submarine in the White Sea on the north-western coast of Russia. The Navy’s northern fleet revealed that the target was a military test ground on the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula.

According to the Navy it was the first time when such a number of missiles are fired from such a type of submarine. The tactical and technical characteristics and reliability of the Yury Dolgorukiy strategic missile submarine and the Bulava missile system were confirmed.

The weight of the Yury Dolgorukiy submarine is 14,720 t. It reaches the speed of 46 km/h. The submarine is from the fourth-generation Borei class of strategic submarines and is designated to carry the Bulava intercontinental nuclear-capable missiles. The first sea trials of that submarine began on 19 June 2009 and the submarine was commissioned on 10 January 2013.

The Bulava is a submarine-launched ballistic missile developed for the Russian Navy. The operational range of the missile is reported to be 8,000-8,300 km, and the accuracy – 350 m.

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AeroVironment Announces a New Switchblade Order

AeroVironment Announces a New Switchblade Order

TAMPA (Florida, the USA, at SOFIC), May 23, 2018, Author: Galina Zdravkova, Photo: AeroVironment

On 22nd May 2018, the manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems for both military and commercial purposes, AeroVironment, Inc., announced that it has received an order from the U.S. Army for the Switchblade Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) and logistics support. That takes the total value of Switchblade awards to $111,054,202 since August 2017. The agreement has been concluded in April 2018 and involves the first Switchblade order for the needs of the United States Marine Corps.

The vice president and general manager of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment of AeroVironment, Kirk Flittie, explained “Switchblade is a highly effective and mature smart weapon system that delivers unmatched force protection and precision strike capabilities to American forces with minimal to no collateral effects. Man-portable and lightweight, Switchblade is a uniquely powerful LMAMS solution for today’s complex combat environments. AeroVironment stands ready, with a battle-proven product, supply chain and production system, to respond rapidly to this and future requirements to ensure U.S. and allied forces can proceed with certainty.”

The AeroVironment Switchblade features rapid-response force protection. The strike is precise with a range of up to 10 km from the launch location. Besides its extremely preciseness, it has specialized effects and wave-off capability and impresses with its compact dimensions – it fits in an ALICE pack and weighs about 2.5 kg. The warheads of the Switchblade are supplied by the Orbital ATK – a global leader in the aerospace and defence technologies sector.

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Lockheed Martin Awarded BAE Systems a $100 Million+ Contract

Lockheed Martin Awarded BAE Systems a $100 Million+ Contract

LONDON (United Kingdom), May 23, 2018, Author: Bm News Team, Photo: BAE Systems

The global security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, has awarded BAE Systems a contract exceeding the amount of $100 million. The duties of BAE Systems under the contract include maintenance and replacement of the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft electronic warfare systems, reported FlightGlobal.

The scope of the contract includes management of the supply chain for the electronic warfare system and maintenance of local warehouses with on-hand inventories of major components.

BAE Systems is the manufacturer of the electronic warfare suite for the needs of the F-35 of Lockheed Martin, known as the AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda system. The avionics and sensors of the system provide a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the aircraft, detecting and geo-locating electronic emitters for giving the pilots the opportunity of evading, engaging, countering or jamming threats. All these capabilities are of great importance in terms of the purposes for which the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft has been designed, and namely – ground attack and air superiority missions.

BAE Systems specified that the contract has been agreed to be based on performance-based logistics and that repair and upgrade of the ASQ-239 is included. Under the contract we will see the company supporting all F-35 versions and customers all over the world.

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