LRS-B Not An ISR Platform

Though the Long-Range Strike Bomber will certainly have data-collecting sensors to help it function deep inside contested airspace, it won’t be the reconnaissance/strike platform some have envisioned. Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance chief Lt. Gen. Robert Otto told attendees at an AFA-sponsored Air Force breakfast on Wednesday that the LRS-B “will have some attributes that should allow us to gain intel from it,” but he characterized it as “non-traditional ISR,” much in the way that fighters with targeting pods can contribute to ISR today. “Its priority will be global strike,” Otto said, and “if in the pursuit of that mission it could collect some intelligence that we could harness, why wouldn’t we do that? But you’ve got to be very careful to ensure that it doesn’t decrement the primary mission.” He added that he’s “not seeking to grab the LRS-B as an ISR asset.” He later told reporters that adding such a mission would have resulted in requirements creep that would likely have delayed the bomber and raised its cost. The Air Force expects to award the LRS-B contract in the spring, to either the Boeing/Lockheed Martin team or Northrop Grumman.