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US ready to put ‘nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert’

The United States Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since the Cold War ended 26 years ago. 

The departments’ chief of staff General David Goldfein confirmed the plan in an interview with Defense One, as concerns grow that North Korea’s nuclear warpath could cause another world war. 

The move would see nuclear-armed B-52s parked on concrete pads the end of an 11,000-foot runway at Barksdale Air Force in Louisiana. 

In a few months the pads, which are dubbed the ‘Christmas Tree’ because of their angular markings,’ will be piled high with weapons ready to take off with just a moments notice for the first time since 1991. 

The move would see nuclear-armed B-52s (pictured) parked on concrete pads the end of an 11,000-foot runway at Barksdale Air Force in Louisiana, where pads have been dormant since 1991

In a few months the pads at Barksdale Air Force (pictured) which are dubbed the 'Christmas Tree' because of their angular markings,' will be piled high with weapons ready to take off with just a moments notice

In a few months the pads at Barksdale Air Force (pictured) which are dubbed the ‘Christmas Tree’ because of their angular markings,’ will be piled high with weapons ready to take off with just a moments notice

This comes after Donald Trump met with top military chiefs on October 6, and made a comment about ‘calm before the storm.’

Speaking to Defense One, General Goldfein emphasized that orders haven’t been given yet, but that they are preparing the bases in the event that it should happen.

‘This yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,’ General Goldfein explained.

‘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.’ 

This comes after Donald Trump met with top military chiefs on October 6, and made a comment about 'calm before the storm'

Kim Jong-Un's rhetoric has grown more confrontational by the day - following his first threat to wipe the United States off the earth in Early April

Kim Jong-Un’s rhetoric has grown more confrontational by the day – following his first threat to wipe the United States off the earth in Early April. So in addition to President Trump’s confrontational rebuttals and Russia’s increasingly capable armed forces, General Goldfein said it’s best to be prepare

Speaking to Defense One, General Goldfein emphasized that orders haven't been given yet, but that they are preparing the bases in the event that it should happen

Speaking to Defense One, General Goldfein emphasized that orders haven’t been given yet, but that they are preparing the bases in the event that it should happen

Were things to escalate, the decision to fire would be made by General John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, or General Lori Robinson, head of Northern Command. 

Readying the B-52s is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as North Korea continues to advance its nuclear arsenal. 

Kim Jong-Un’s rhetoric has grown more confrontational by the day – following his first threat to wipe the United States off the earth in Early April. 

So in addition to President Trump’s confrontational rebuttals and Russia’s increasingly capable armed forces, General Goldfein said it’s best to be prepared. 

He has asked his force to think of new ways that nuclear weapons can be used for either deterrence or combat, he told Defense One. 

Specifically, he said, General Goldfein told airmen to think beyond Cold War uses for ICBMs, bombers and nuclear cruise missiles.  

‘The world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons,’ he explained. 

‘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.’  

 General Goldfein said that renovations are being made to Barksdale so that it could house multiple B-52's as well as the airmen to fly them. Pictured are two crew chiefs changing a tire on a B-52

 General Goldfein said that renovations are being made to Barksdale so that it could house multiple B-52’s as well as the airmen to fly them. Pictured are two crew chiefs changing a tire on a B-52

Barksdale (pictured) is home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, and oversees the service's nuclear forces. It is therefore the place where the Air Force is most focused on readying B-52s to return to alert posture

Barksdale (pictured) is home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, and oversees the service’s nuclear forces. It is therefore the place where the Air Force is most focused on readying B-52s to return to alert posture

General Goldfein said he’s not sure if placing B52s on alert will help with deterrence, because it would depend on the players, their specific behaviors, and their understanding of the US’s readiness status. 

At Barksdale several improvements have been made in preparations – including the renovation of a building near the alert pads where B-52 crews can sleep.  

The base is home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, and oversees the service’s nuclear forces. It is therefore the place where the Air Force is most focused on readying B-52s to return to alert posture.  

Two nuclear command planes – the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury – will both occasionally visit the base. In the event of a nuclear war those planes would be the flying command posts of the defense secretary and STRATCOM commander (respectively), according to Defense One. 

If a strike were to be ordered, launch codes would be transmitted to bombers from those planes. 

Multiple bases with nuclear bombers, including Barksdale, are preparing to build storage facilities for the new nuclear cruise missile under development. That missile, which is a proposed replacement for the 400-plus Minutemen III ICBM. 

‘Our job is options. we provide best military advice and options for the commander and chief and the secretary of defense,’ General Goldfein told Defense One. 

He said that should commanders need it, the base will be ready to defend the homeland and to put those forces.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk