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US will cut Air Force nuclear missile force by 50; lowest total since early 1960s

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 10:44 p.m. MDT

This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014 shows a mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The Obama administration says the number of launch-ready Air Force land-based nuclear missiles will shrink to 400 — the lowest total since the early 1960s — as part of a plan for complying with a U.S.-Russia arms treaty. (Robert Burns, Associated Press) This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014 shows a mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The Obama administration says the number of launch-ready Air Force land-based nuclear missiles will shrink to 400 — the lowest total since the early 1960s — as part of a plan for complying with a U.S.-Russia arms treaty. (Robert Burns, Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says the number of launch-ready Air Force land-based nuclear missiles will shrink to 400 — the lowest total since the early 1960s — as part of a plan for complying with a U.S.-Russia arms treaty.

The number of those deployed missiles will drop by 50 by February 2018. The Pentagon said Tuesday that the 50 missiles to be removed from their underground silos will be kept on standby rather than eliminated. The missile force has encountered numerous recent setbacks, including an exam-cheating scandal.

The Navy will shed 40 submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles, and the Air Force will cut its nuclear bomber force by six.

The reductions will put the U.S. in compliance with the 2011 New START treaty, which allows a maximum of 700 deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

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