National Affairs: A Nuclear-Powered Plane?

In Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Quarles's office in the Pentagon last week a group of high-level Navy and Air Force officers got together to ponder a serious decision: whether the U.S. ought, in the age of the missile, to speed up a nuclear-powered airplane project, and, if so, what kind of plane, to perform what kind of mission, at what cost, and when. The Navy argued hard for a subsonic nuclear turboprop seaplane for antisubmarine warfare and long-range radar-warning patrol. The Air Force argued not quite so hard for a more advanced supersonic nuclear jet bomber. All believed that the Russians...

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