SAC in the 1980s
- Adrian Symonds
15th July 2022
‘Fighter pilots make movies, bomber pilots make history’ – or so the bomber pilots say, anyway.
Strategic Air Command held a constant nuclear-armed vigil, ready to launch nuclear war at a moment’s notice, twenty-four hours a day. SAC was responsible for two of the three components of the Nuclear Triad – manned strategic bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – alongside the Navy’s SLBMs. Also responsible for the USAF’s strategic reconnaissance aircraft, SAC maintained a large fleet of tankers to support its bombers and spy planes.
After a drawdown of strength in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, SAC rebuilt its strength throughout the 1980s as part of a wider revitalisation of the US armed forces under President Reagan. New advanced bombers, tankers and ICBMs joined the fleet with the promise of new stealth aircraft under development.