Building the Bomber Force

The Air Force needs a bomber force of between 150 and 200 aircraft—including B-2s and Long-Range Strike Bombers—“to maintain America’s asymmetric advantage in long-range precision strike over any potential adversary,” retired Lt. Gen. Mike Moeller asserted? in a report for AFA’s Mitchell Institute. The report, released Wednesday on Capitol Hill, used a threat-based planning analysis, a regional stability estimate, and a nuclear deterrence assessment to determine the best bomber force size for the future. “Our B-52s and B-1s will have a very difficult time surviving in a contested environment, but what we will face over the course of the next two decades is air operations in highly contested environments,” Moeller said. “America desperately needs to rebuild its bomber force, starting with the (Long-Range Strike Bomber).” One hundred LRS-Bs is not enough, he said, because a force of 120 bombers by 2045 is insufficient. Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute, was more specific. “The right number’s 174,” he said. (Read the full report.)