Congressional authorizers want DOD to conduct a new “requirements-based study” to consider the appropriate size and mix of fixed-wing intertheater and intratheater airlift assets. This is a product of the 2008 defense policy bill conference report, merging the Senate desire for a focus on strategic airlifters and House preference to broaden the scope to cover all fixed-wing airlift capability, including commercial assets and tactical airlift, such as the Joint Cargo Aircraft. The conference report also calls for a “thorough review” of an internal Air Force briefing that covered the potential retirement of 30 older model C-5s and purchase of 30 additional C-17s—known as the “30/30 Plan.” The study is to include airlift capability provided by current and future air refueling aircraft. Congress expects a study plan from a DOD-selected federally funded research and development center 60 days after enactment of the defense bill. In this report, lawmakers want to see options that would include continuing to upgrade all C-5s (see above) and buying additional C-17s and doing neither.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."