Aircraft and Bases Powered by Compact Nuclear Reactors: Solutions to Projecting Power in Highly Contested Environments and Fossil Fuel Dependence
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
Pagination or Media Count:
The United States Department of Defense DOD, especially the Air Force, currently requires huge amounts of energy to conduct daily operations, including the requirement to project power worldwide. As it prepares for operations in the future, specifically out to 2040 when the cost of fossil fuels will be even greater than today and the operational environment will be highly contested, the DOD must develop more sustainable methods of using energy than the current primary method of burning fossil fuels. Nuclear power is a sustainable solution existing today and is the most efficient energy-producing method. By leveraging decades of past research of its own and collaborating with the Navy, who has propelled vessels for sixty years using compact fission reactors, and the Department of Energy, the Air Force should develop its nuclear-power program based first on improved compact fission reactors and then on compact fusion reactors, which do not exist today but are being explored by industry. Compact reactors can power aircraft, increasing loiter time and power-projection range. They can also power expeditionary bases, decreasing the DODs footprint and time needed to set up such bases. In short, the Air Force should project power in highly contested environments by 2040 with aircraft and bases powered by compact nuclear reactors.
- Electric Power Production and Distribution
- Nuclear Fission Reactors (Power)
- Nuclear Propulsion