US Air Force: Nuclear-armed B-52s are not going on high alert

The US Air Force has denied a report that nuclear-armed B-52 bombers are being prepared to resume 24-hour alerts for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

In a report by security news website Defense One, Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein said the military was considering the move in light of rising tensions with North Korea.

Air Force spokeswoman Laura M. McAndrews denied the report and told CNBC there were no plans or preparations to put the strategic bombers back on 24-hour alert.

Renovations are reportedly being made to Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, home to the 2nd Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees US nuclear forces.

Beds also are being installed for more than 100 crew members who would operate as many as nine bombers parked on the 11,000-foot runway.

McAndrews said that updates to base infrastructure “are necessary to maintain a baseline level of readiness.”

“We do this routinely as part of our organize, train and equip mission so our forces are ready to respond when called upon,” she told CNBC.

Goldfein told Defense One that “the world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons,” while stressing that preparations were underway although no official order had been given.

“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Goldfein told the industry publication during his tour of Barksdale and other bases that support the nuclear mission.

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“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,” he said earlier.

The B-52 — also called the Stratofortress — can fly up to about 50,000 feet and release a variety of weapons, including cluster bombs, gravity bombs and precision guided missiles.

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