Leaning Forward, but not Overreaching

The Air Force will design its new long-range bomber by leveraging the best of today’s technology and not trying to incorporate exceedingly risky approaches, USAF Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove told lawmakers Wednesday. “One of the cost-savings approaches we have for this bomber is to not lean forward into technology that’s not proven, but bring our aircraft up to the current day’s standards,” he testified before the House Armed Services Committee. For instance, Breedlove said stealth technology has advanced much since the B-2 bomber came along through subsequent work on the F-22 and F-35. “So the new bomber will have better stealth capability, but not [by] making leaps forward that we can’t count on,” he explained. This same mindset applies for the bomber’s avionics, information-gathering systems, and so on. Breedlove said the anticipated cost of the new bomber “is not fleshed out totally yet,” but the “distinct goal” is to control cost so that USAF can procure a fleet “that makes us operationally relevant around the world and around the target set.” The platform, he continued, will “start out” in a conventional role and then “grow into a nuclear capability” later on.