Defense Secretary Bob Gates halted work on the next-generation bomber in 2010, but he told US troops in Iraq last week that it’s likely the 2011 budget would include a new long-range strike capability for the Air Force. He said that work on the Quadrennial Defense Review and other ongoing reviews point toward a new bomber under the 2011 budget and future years defense plan. Although Gates used the word “probably,” we believe that’s relates to timing because he said in September that he supports a new long-range strike capability. Gates also told the troops, “We’re looking at a family of capabilities, both manned and unmanned,” but he gave no indication whether he thinks such a new aircraft would be nuclear-capable. Some defense analysts speculate that there’s no need for a new nuclear-capable bomber and see the US triad becoming a dyad. (Gates townhall session at FOB Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, transcript)
Robins Air Force Base, Ga., has completed two environmental reviews, clearing the way for new construction to support the bases four new missions sets, which will replace the E-8 Joint STARS mission that has defined the base for decades.