Don’t Delay Bomber Recap

The need for deep-penetrating and survivable strike capability to go after time-sensitive targets justifies the urgency in fielding the next-generation bomber in 2018, states a report that the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments issued yesterday. At the same time, as desirable as that fielding goal is, “I would practically be surprised if you actually see an airplane on the ramp somewhere by 2018,” Barry Watts, a senior fellow at the center and principal author of the report, told reporters during a media roundtable Tuesday. “But, you know,” he continued, “the early 2020s would be adequate if the investment is made.” Just last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said budgetary shortfalls during the nation’s economic downturn may delay the project. Watts said the bomber is primarily needed for roles in the conventional realm, but would also be valuable in nuclear missions since it would allow the President the ability to call off a theoretical limited nuclear strike up until the last seconds.