Discretionary Spending

Function 050 - National Defense

Cancel the Long-Range Standoff Weapon

CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues, as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. This option appears in one of those publications. The options are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO.

Billions of Dollars 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2021–
Change in Planned Defense Spending  
  Budget authority 0 -1.4 -1.5 -1.4 -1.4 -1.3 -1.5 -1.5 -1.3 -1.2 -5.7 -12.5
  Outlays 0 -0.8 -1.3 -1.4 -1.4 -1.3 -1.2 -1.1 -1.1 -1.1 -4.9 -10.7

This option would take effect in October 2021.
Estimates of savings displayed in the table are based on the Department of Defense’s 2021 Future Years Defense Program, the Department of Energy’s 2021 Future Years Nuclear Security Program, and the Congressional Budget Office’s extension of those plans.

The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) are currently overseeing two programs aimed at developing nuclear weapons for the new B-21 stealth bomber. In the B61-12 life extension program (LEP), DOE is working to refurbish and combine several varieties of the B61 bomb into a single hybrid design. In the other program, DoD is developing the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile designed to replace the ALCM (the air-launched cruise missile currently carried by the B-52H). DOE is currently producing a warhead, the W80-4, for the LRSO to carry.

This option would cancel the LRSO and the W80-4 warhead development program but retain the B61-12 LEP. Thus, the Air Force would stop equipping bombers with cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads after the current ALCMs reached the end of their service life (around 2030). This option would not change the planned size of the strategic bomber fleet or its ability to conduct nonnuclear missions, and aircraft that are capable of carrying nuclear bombs would still be able to do so.