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Air Force can’t keep nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert, top general says


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"The U.S. Air Force is considering a plan to put part of its nuclear bomber fleet on 24-hour alert status to fill the gap left by the aging U.S. nuclear missile arsenal, but one top general is warning that plan isn’t sustainable and could exhaust the force.

During a Mitchell Institute virtual event on Thursday, Air Force Lt. Gen. James Dawkins, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, said putting the U.S. bomber fleet on 24-hour alert can’t “be done forever.”

Asked what would happen if the nuclear triad was just reduced to a nuclear duo of just air and sea-based nuclear weapons, Dawkins said, in extreme conditions, the Air Force could keep its bomber fleet on alert for a long period of time “but at some point at some time period we are going to basically exhaust the force and we cannot do this steady state, we cannot do this forever.”

Under the proposal to end the use of the land-based nuclear arsenal, the Air Force would instead divert its energy to maintaining a bomber fleet that is always on alert."

https://americanmilitarynews.com/2021/04/air-force-cant-keep-nuclear-bombers-on-24-hour-alert-top-general-says/

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24 minutes ago, railfancwb said:

Hummm... Didn’t the Strategic Air Command accomplish this now impossible task for decades?

Yes, they did....but that was before Diversity and Inclusion programs required so much time, effort and mandatory training.  No way they have time for mission accomplishment these days, even if they had enough competent people who wanted to do so.

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1 minute ago, Gunboat1 said:

Yes, they did....but that was before Diversity and Inclusion programs required so much time, effort and mandatory training.  No way they have time for mission accomplishment these days, even if they had enough competent people who wanted to do so.

I’m reminded of Heinlein’s comment about a couple on wagon caravan (in Time Enough For Love). The protagonist had two wagons with mules plus a few extra mules. He observed that he could have afforded more, but after a point all of his time would be devoted to hitching and unhitching and feeding and watering mules, with no time left for the journey.  

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3 minutes ago, GT4494 said:

I think the Navy has a higher percentage of the Nuclear Triad then the air force.  so do we really need AF bombers anymore?

If you are referring to ballistic missile carrying subs as the Navy’s part, then yes the bombers are still needed. Bombers can be recalled if perchance they were sent out in error. Once a sub has launched its missiles there can be no recall. Atomic bomb carrying airplanes carrier based are still bombers and can also be recalled.  

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1 hour ago, railfancwb said:

If you are referring to ballistic missile carrying subs as the Navy’s part, then yes the bombers are still needed. Bombers can be recalled if perchance they were sent out in error. Once a sub has launched its missiles there can be no recall. Atomic bomb carrying airplanes carrier based are still bombers and can also be recalled.  

True dat. However, is it realistic to think the bombers would be sent out without the missiles being launched? If the missiles are launched the bombers' recallability is moot, isn't it? 

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1 hour ago, gwalchmai said:

True dat. However, is it realistic to think the bombers would be sent out without the missiles being launched? If the missiles are launched the bombers' recallability is moot, isn't it? 

Hasn’t there recently been a B52 with escorts flying in the Taiwan area? Reminding mainland China that the price for taking the island might be more than they want to pay at the moment?

Couldn’t send that message with only missiles 

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1 hour ago, railfancwb said:

Hasn’t there recently been a B52 with escorts flying in the Taiwan area? Reminding mainland China that the price for taking the island might be more than they want to pay at the moment?

Couldn’t send that message with only missiles 

Yeah, we send that message all the time. Like whenever we have a carrier task force cruising around the Straits.

i.e., they're not actually "sent out" so their recallability advantage over ICBMs comes into play. Don't get me wrong. I like manned bombers.

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On 4/23/2021 at 3:22 PM, gwalchmai said:

I was in SAC in the 70s and we stayed at "a number near 100% which I cannot divulge" all the time. And we were diverse, too...

My Dad was SAC at Offutt...1965.  JSTPS.  I remember touring "the Underground Center"...Amazing.  "looking Glass" and all that.

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I assume giving the Air Force enough money would solve the problem.

 

Well crap! Think of the changes we'll need to make in movies like Dr Strangelove,,  Bomber Command (?  I think that's right), Broken Arrow

 

Have they explored options? The Israeli's might do it for cost plus 10%

 

Then there was that movie where a computer named The WOPR could launch land based missiles. Maybe we could put WOPR Juniors in our bombers.

 

UAV's are making a lot of progress. Lets make long term plans there.

 

Lets decrease our force. Under attack we'll just destroy half the world?

 

Let's mark one missile "Made in China" and let the eurasians fight it out.

Edited by Paul53
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Let’s see...

The Air Force doesn’t want the ground support mission most often now handled by the A10.

The Air Force doesn’t want to turn the A10 and ground support mission over to the Army.

The Air Force says, in effect, that it can’t do the Strategic Air Command role now.

Is the Air Force the branch of service in charge of the land based missiles now being removed from service possibly never to be replaced?

What exactly does the Air Force see as its role, its primary reason for being?

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9 hours ago, gwalchmai said:

True dat. However, is it realistic to think the bombers would be sent out without the missiles being launched? If the missiles are launched the bombers' recallability is moot, isn't it? 

If enemy missiles are launched while our bombers, or most of them, are on the ground that’s where they will be when the missiles arrive. 

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