“A Very Difficult Problem”

That’s how Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the process of determining the correct type of new bomber aircraft that the Air Force should pursue. “We want to get it right,” Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. He said the chosen system would have “a huge impact, quite frankly, on the future of the Air Force because of the capability requirement.” Mullen appeared before the panel with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and DOD Comptroller Robert Hale to discuss the Pentagon’s 2011 spending proposal. He said previous Pentagon analyses such as that reflected in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review that envisioned the new bomber being available around 2018 “were incredibly aggressive.” Better, he indicated, is the deliberative process upon which the DOD is now embarked “that really focuses on getting [the bomber] right.”