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USAF Wants to Expand by 25%, Citing Challenges From Russia, China - Secretary

© AP Photo / Dave CaulkinMarch 3, 2002 file photo shows a member of the public watching a US Air Force B 52 bomber arriving at RAF Fairford in western England. Pushing his vision of a nuclear weapons-free world, President Barack Obama returned to Prague on Thursday, April 8, 2010 to sign a pivotal treaty aimed at sharply paring U.S. and Russian arsenals — and repairing soured relations between the nations. With that, they will commit their nations to slash the number of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third and more than halve the number of missiles, submarines and bombers carrying them, pending ratification by their legislatures. The new treaty will shrink those warheads to 1,550 over seven years. That still allows for mutual destruction several times over. But it will send a strong signal that Russia and the U.S., which between them own more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, are serious about disarmament.
March 3, 2002 file photo shows a member of the public watching a US Air Force B 52 bomber arriving at RAF Fairford in western England. Pushing his vision of a nuclear weapons-free world, President Barack Obama returned to Prague on Thursday, April 8, 2010 to sign a pivotal treaty aimed at sharply paring U.S. and Russian arsenals — and repairing soured relations between the nations. With that, they will commit their nations to slash the number of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third and more than halve the number of missiles, submarines and bombers carrying them, pending ratification by their legislatures. The new treaty will shrink those warheads to 1,550 over seven years. That still allows for mutual destruction several times over. But it will send a strong signal that Russia and the U.S., which between them own more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, are serious about disarmament. - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Air Force must expand by a quarter the current number of its operational squadrons in order to address emerging threats from China and Russia, Secretary Heather Wilson said during remarks at the Air Force Association’s annual conference on Monday.

"To face the world as it is, with a rapidly innovating adversary, the Air Force we need should have about 25 percent more operational squadrons in the 2025-2030 time frame than the Air Force we have," Wilson said.

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The US Air Force must boost the number of its operational squadrons from 312 to 386 in order implement the current National Defense Strategy, Wilson said.

READ MORE: US Air Force Tests Upgraded ‘Earth-Penetrating' Nuclear Bomb

Noting that the world has returned to the era of great power competition, Wilson said such growth should include five additional bomber squadrons, 14 tanker squadrons, seven fighter squadrons and seven space squadrons, among other increases.

Concerning the issue of emerging threats, Wilson highlighted the Vostok-2018, Russia’s largest military exercises in four decades, but emphasized China’s launch of its first aircraft carrier and the militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

Earlier today, the Trump administration has pledged to study and where necessary strategically invest in modernizing airports and bases across Greenland, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood confirmed in a Statement of Intent he signed on Monday.

"The US Department of Defense intends to analyze and, where appropriate strategically invest in projects related to the airport infrastructure in Greenland, including projects that may have dual civil and military benefits," the statement said.

READ MORE: WATCH Russian Troops Nail It During Vostok-2018 Military Drills

Rood signed the statement during a visit to the US Thule Air Base in Greenland, a territory controlled by Denmark, a member of the US-led NATO alliance.

"This Statement of Intent lays out principles for investments in Greenland to enhance US military operational flexibility and situational awareness to address the changing security environment in the Arctic," said the statement, which is not legally binding under national or international law.

The new investments would seek to enhance US and NATO capabilities in the North Atlantic region, the statement said.

The potential expansion of the US Air Force would be the largest increase since the Cold War, according to data released from the Defense Department.

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