The LRS-B and US Airpower in the Pacific

China’s anti-access, area-denial buildup is increasing the vulnerability of US tactical airpower and, at the same time, the importance of US long-range platforms, such as the Air Force’s forthcoming Long-Range Strike Bomber, declared author and analyst Robert Haddick at a talk on Monday that AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies sponsored. Looking ahead, there is great need for long-range stealthy capability to counter Chinese strengths, he said during the Nov. 10 event in Arlington, Va. “There is room for a much-expanded mission set for the LRS-B,” he said. This includes stealthy, long-range maritime surveillance and strike, since the Navy will be increasingly unable to operate non-stealthy intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft closer than 2,000 kilometers from China, he said. The LRS-B could also be tapped to provide long-endurance ISR and strike against mobile targets, as Chinese mobile missile batteries could be held at risk, said Haddick. It could also serve in a command-and-control role when space assets are threatened and conduct electronic intelligence gathering and electronic attack in denied airspace, he said. He spoke of developing more-capable future blocks of LRS-B or designing readily swappable mission modules.