No Nuclear Airplanes?

No Nuclear Airplanes?
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

The U.S. Navy recently asked Congress for $139 billion to update its fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Unlike “conventional” submarines, which need to surface frequently, nuclear submarines can cruise below the sea at high speeds for decades without ever needing to refuel. Defense planners expect that the new submarines will run on one fueling for the entirety of deployment—up to a half century.

The advantages of nuclear submarines over their conventional cousins raise a question about another component of the military arsenal: Why don't airplanes run on nuclear power?

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