Later this spring, the Department of Defense will unveil its decision for the new long-range strike bomber. The program, designed to supplement aging bomber inventories and replace outmoded technologies, will ensure continued freedom of action in the face of increasingly sophisticated air defense systems and provide an important contribution to the preservation of the American military advantage. Given the criticality of the capabilities provided by the new bomber, it will be crucial for the program to proceed apace — free from requirements creep, on cost and on schedule.
There is a robust, bipartisan consensus that the new long-range bomber is a key instrument of nuclear and conventional power projection. The current fleet is rapidly aging and possesses technology that is inadequate to meet the threats of the future. Today's bomber fleet consists of the non-stealthy but high ordnance-capacity B-52s, with an average airframe age of 50 years, and B-1s, which average 28 years. While these platforms have undergone life extension programs that will enable them to remain in the fleet until 2040, they could not survive advanced air defenses and thus are ill-suited to operations in the contested environments that the United States will likely face in the future. The stealthy B-2, in contrast, enjoys a newer airframe — with an average age of 20 years — but also is largely reliant on Cold War-era technology, and only 20 are still in service. At any given time, fewer still are available operationally, as some aircraft are, by necessity, rotated through routine maintenance.
Read the full piece at Defense News.
More from CNAS
PodcastFire and Ice
In this week’s edition of the SpyTalk podcast, Jeff Stein goes deep on the CIA’s looming eviction from Afghanistan with Lisa Curtis, a longtime former CIA, State Department an...
By Lisa Curtis, Jeff Stein, Jeanne Meserve & Alma Katsu
ReportsPrinciples for the Combat Employment of Weapon Systems with Autonomous Functionalities
Introduction An international debate over lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been under way for nearly a decade.1 In 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued for...
By Robert O. Work
PodcastAre ‘killer robots’ the future of warfare?
Paul Scharre joins host Suzanna Kianpour to discuss the technology, fears and even potential advantages of developing autonomous weapons. Listen to the full conversation from...
By Paul Scharre
CommentaryThe Militarization of Artificial Intelligence
Militaries are racing to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) with the aim of gaining military advantage over competitors. And yet, there is little understanding of AI’s long-te...
By Paul Scharre