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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Top Air Force Officer Rejects Remote-Controlled Nuclear Bomber

The U.S. Air Force's top officer has suggested he would not support deploying nuclear weapons on a planned next-generation U.S. strategic bomber if the aircraft were intended to be controlled from afar, The Atlantic reported on Monday (see GSN, March 1).

The Long-Range Strike bomber is intended to take the place of the Air Force's aging B-1 and B-2 planes. The Pentagon's fiscal 2013 budget request has allocated funds to advance efforts to design and build between 80 and 100 of the strategic aircraft. The Air Force presently anticipates receiving the new bombers beginning in the mid-2020s.

The new stealth aircraft is envisioned to have the capacity to carry nuclear weapons, be piloted both remotely or from the cockpit, defeat enemy radar systems, and destroy approaching missiles with lasers, among other capabilities, according to previous reporting.

"Could you be comfortable with a nuclear-laden [remotely piloted aircraft]? I wouldn't," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said last month in an address (see GSN, March 1; David Axe, The Atlantic, March 26).

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