The United States Air Force is taking preparatory steps to put nuclear armed B-52 bombers on full time alert, ready to fulfill their mission should the order come.
“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,” said Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein in an interview to Defense One.
The order to put the Air Force bombers on 24-hour notice has not been given yet, stressed Golfein. The Air Force is just gearing up in case the situation arises.
“The world is a dangerous place,” said General Golfein. “It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union.”
Barksdale Air Force base in northwestern Louisiana is the home of Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees all nuclear forces the Air Force has under it's command.
The base contains nine empty B-52 landing pads and facilities that can host over one hundred airmen. The E-48 Nightwatch and the E-6B Mercury will soon temporarily fill the landing pads as they begin to spend some of their time on-alert there on the base.
If a nuclear war is declared, both planes will serve as the flying command posts of the current defense secretary and STRATCOM commander, respectively.
“Our job,” said General Goldfein, “is options.”