OSD Nominees Reaffirm Need for New Bomber

President-elect Barack Obama’s nominees for the Pentagon’s No. 2 spot and its top policy post yesterday endorsed the need for a new bomber on Capitol Hill yesterday and said this capability would be a central discussion point in the forthcoming quadrennial defense review. “I think the need for long-range precision strike that can penetrate the most sophisticated enemy air defenses is absolutely critical,” undersecretary of defense for policy nominee Michele Flournoy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a nomination hearing. Meanwhile, deputy defense secretary nominee William Lynn told the panel that the Air Force’s next-generation bomber program and its underlying premise will “be one of the central parts” of the new QDR. Looking at strategic scenarios involving Europe and the Pacific, the range of a strike aircraft becomes a “more important variable” while the proliferation and sophistication of air defense technology make standoff capabilities almost essential for mission survivability, he added. Flournoy said she hoped that DOD would use the QDR to examine the range of capabilities that would fill the need for long-range penetrating strike, including a new bomber. Both were responding to questions by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) who asked them whether a new bomber is vital to US national defense strategy and what steps should be taken to ensure that it is available by its target date of 2018. Obama announced Lynn’s and Flournoy’s nominations Jan. 8.