Conventional First

The first iteration of the Air Force’s next bomber-like aircraft will be oriented toward conventional warfare, top Air Force leaders said Monday. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, addressing the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference, said, “This time around … we are approaching long range strike capabilities mainly through conventional perspectives, where they are most likely to be used.” Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the Daily Report immediately after Donley’s speech that the aircraft won’t have all the electromagnetic hardening necessary for nuclear strike, but will have “many of the basic electronics and subsystems” that a later nuclear version of the system could make use of. Donley said the Air Force will try to avoid previous failed attempts at bombers which had “narrowly focused capabilities, high risk technologies, and high costs contributing to affordability problems leading to program cancellations and low inventories.” He also said it’s “critical” that USAF have aircraft that can “range the planet.”