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The manned penetrating bomber: time to reconsider?

By Shawn E. Toenyes


Approved for public release; distribution is unlimitedDuring the Cold War, the United States constructed a nuclear triad, which consists of three components: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The triad's mission was to ensure that the U.S. nuclear force would not be crippled or destroyed should an enemy attempt a first strike attack against the United States. This in turn offered a credible threat of a U.S.-launched second strike, enhancing the overall effectiveness of our deterrent strategy. This thesis challenges a central tenet of traditional U.S. nuclear doctrine by asking, Is the Triad still needed? Although some in the Air Force, along with various government personnel and those outside of the National Capital Region, have questioned the continued reliance on the bomber, there has been insufficient debate about either the bomber's deterrence value or second-strike launch capability in the event that nuclear deterrence collapses. This research examines the historic and contemporary reasons for maintaining bombers as part of the Triad. This thesis concludes that the strategic bomber should be removed from the Triad and the financial savings be redistributed to the remaining legs of the newly formed nuclear dyad.Major, United States Arm

Topics: triad, deterrence, bombers
Publisher: Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Year: 2016
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