Lose the Preconceived Notions

So says Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the Air Force’s ISR czar, when discussing the service’s next-generation bomber. Deptula told Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog March 20 that calling this future aircraft just a bomber fails to recognize the multi-role capabilities that it would have. (Blog entry) “I wouldn’t call it a bomber, because that creates a perception based on historical uses of bombers that this platform is going to be well beyond,” he said. Indeed, he said the new “bomber” would carry out intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance missions, serve as a communications node, and have the “added capability” of striking targets. Deptula went so far as to say he would like to see the designations for aircraft—such as “F” for fighter and “B” for bomber—go away since they are too constraining. A better alternative, he said, might be to call them simply “aerospace vehicles” or AVs for short. This isn’t the first time Deptula has spoken along these lines. Back in 2007, he said, to fully understand what an F-22 can do, one would have to refer to it as an F/A/B/E/EA/RC/AWACS-22.