The escalating tensions with North Korea have caused the U.S. to consider placing the bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since 1991.
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a report on Sunday that “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared. 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 added “we’ve got folks that are talking openly about the use of nuclear weapons, it’s important to remain alert and think of new ways to be prepared. 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.”
The B-52 is a long-range bomber that flies at subsonic speed at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It is capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional ordnance including cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and gravity bombs.
Renovations are just finishing up at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, the home of the USAF’s Global Strike Command and their 2nd Bomb Wing. The renovations are being done so that a B-52 Bomber could be ready to “launch at a moment’s notice.” The Global Strike Command is in charge of the Air Force’s nuclear services.
This morning (Monday), Japan’s defense minister Itsunori Onodera released a statement asserting that North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear capabilities have reached “an unprecedented, critical and imminent level. Therefore, we have to take calibrated and different responses to meet that level of threat.” He did not specify what those ‘different responses’ might be.