Long-Range Strike may have a future, depending on who you ask. During a panel discussion titled “Does Long Strike Have a Future?” yesterday at AFA’s Air and Space Conference in Washington, three panelists debated the reality of a potential new bomber platform. Christopher Bolkcom, national defense analyst with the Congressional Research Service, painted a doubtful picture of developing a pure new bomber because he believes the Air Force’s planning and priorities are in line with procuring a new fighter-bomber aircraft. Bolkcom also pointed out the Air Force only has three generals who specialize in bombers. “Bomber advocates need to push hard” for a new LRS platform, he said. Thomas Ehrhard, senior analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary assessments, and Richard Hallion, former senior USAF historian, were both more optimistic, essentially saying LRS does in fact, and must have, a future. Hallion believes LRS has a future because our “enemies will force us to have long-range strike,” meaning they are just as capable of developing the new technology.
When the Air Force sets a new program baseline for the B-52 re-engining this fall, there will be “some” cost increase, because the project wasn't previously fully funded, and the Air Force has a better handle on actual supplier costs and knowledge from ground testing, program officials said.