Black Magic:

Eighth Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Robert Elder says there are new technologies that USAF can “exploit quickly” as it tries to make a planned 2018 deadline for introducing a new stealthy subsonic manned bomber. However, he dismisses the idea of reopening the B-2 line as a shortcut because the B-2 was “second generation” stealth, and the science has advanced far beyond that in the last 30 years. He told defense reporters in Washington yesterday that the stealth available on the new F-22 is “amazing” and added that there have been subsequent advances “in the black world” that haven’t been fielded yet, but which are proven and ready to go. “You would charge me with fraud, waste, and abuse” if the Air Force resumed production of the B-2 with better technology now available. Congress is skeptical of the 2018 date. Both House and Senate defense authorizers restored funding in the 2008 defense bill to forestall USAF plans to retire all but 56 B-52 bombers, because they don’t think USAF can field a new bomber within the next 10 years. The 2018 bomber is considered an interim step before USAF fields a new global strike platform, possibly unmanned, by around 2025.