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FB: Don't touch our nukes. Air Force and Defense Department officials are opposing moves to limit how much money they can spend on nuclear modernization, including the Air Force's new bomber.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on Monday introduced the Sane Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act, which aims to cut $100 billion from the nation's nuclear weapons budget. The measure would cut the B-61 gravity bomb development and cancel the development of an air-launched cruise missile, delay the long-range strike bomber development, cancel the F-35's ability to carry a nuclear weapon and defer development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Air Force. The bill would also cut the number of nuclear submarines and cancel the construction of nuclear weapons processing facilities.
"We are robbing America's future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past," Markey said in a statement. "As we debate the budget and Republicans rally around devastating cuts to Medicare, Head Start and investments in research and science, it makes no sense to fund a bloated nuclear arsenal that does nothing to keep our nation safe in the 21st century."
Congress instead should work to find savings in existing programs and the Pentagon needs to aim for a one-third reduction in its deployed weapons, Blumenauer said.
Air Force and Navy Defense Department officials have been public this week in defending their moves to invest in the nuclear community. Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told reporters Tuesday today that the spending is necessary to compete with advancements in the nuclear capability of that potential adversaries such as Russia and China have made in their nuclear capability.
"We cannot simply afford to underfund our strategic ability," Haney said. "Any cuts to our budget … will hamper our ability to sustain and modernize our joint military forces and put us at real risk of making the nation less secure and able to address future threats."
The military has been forced to delay upgrades to infrastructure, a bill that is coming due to keep a "credible deterrent," Haney said.
The Air Force's is "committed to funding the nuclear enterprise appropriately" and needs to make it clear that its mission is a "national capability," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event Monday in Washington, D.C.
A major part of this plan is the long-range strike bomber, which is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s. The service expects to award a contract for an engineering, manufacturing and development within the next several months, James said. The bomber is expected to replace the B-52, which will fly until 2040 when it hits about 80 years of service, and the B-2 Spirit. The with an overall goal is a fleet of 80 to 100 new bombers.