The US Air Force has launched a new Global Strike Command to assume responsibility for the weapons command programme, following the sacking of senior officials after weapons handling scandals in 2006 and 2007

The command will operate nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 bombers along with the intercontinental ballistic missile force that had previously been under the Air Force Space Command.

Apart from its primary nuclear role, the command will also employ conventional weapons including a yet-to-be completed giant bunker-buster bomb.

Air force chief of staff General Norton Schwartz said the new command included an elaborate inspections regime with regular outside oversight.

“My judgement was that perhaps the inspections had not been as rigorous as we needed in the past. So we adjusted that,” Schwartz said.

The setting up of a separate command will ensure the nuclear forces receive equal status with other missions in the air force and help develop airmen with relevant skills.