More Bombers for the Navy Decade?

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces panel, said the Air Force’s plan to buy 80-100 bombers is inadequate. Speaking with defense reporters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Forbes said he doesn’t have a specific number in mind, but he thinks it’s possible the bomber budget won’t be enough to get the numbers USAF needs. The Air Force has been “the good child … most of (its program) goes along pretty smooth” and the service has done “a pretty good job with the overall budgets they have had,” Forbes said, but he’s worried about USAF modernization and preserving air dominance. In another plug for aircraft carriers, Navy fighters, and jammers, he said, “It’s not just where the bombers will go, but can we give them the amount of protection and overall air dominance that we think those bombers need?” That said, Forbes argued the next decade—or two or three—“is going to be a decade of seapower.” He said it no longer makes “military sense” to divide the defense budget up into thirds (one for each service), and the Navy should get a bigger share. “Every major country in the Pacific is building their Navy up,” he said, adding, “We’re the only one that’s reducing.” However, he thinks the defense debate in Congress is trending toward bigger budgets, and more bombers may be in the cards. Stay tuned.