USAF Eyes 80 to 100 New Bombers

The Air Force is requesting nearly $200 million in Fiscal 2012 to launch a new bomber program and plans to spend $3.7 billion on the aircraft across the new five-year defense plan, according to Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, USAF’s budget chief. Briefing reporters Monday, Flowers said the new bomber will be optionally manned, be based on mature technologies, and have long range. He and additional USAF budget officials said the service wants to field a force of 80 to 100 airframes, with capability on the ramp in the mid 2020s. Flowers said classification will keep the Air Force from revealing many details, adding that “we won’t even know if there is a competition going on.” There isn’t one at this point, he noted. Moreover, this programmed money would fund development of the “entire family” of long-range strike systems, Flowers said, not just the bomber, but the bomber will be “the centerpiece” of long-range strike.