Considering how old it is, the Air Force’s dwindling fleet of long-range bombers is performing remarkably well. All of the bombers including the venerable B-52 now carry precision weapons that enable them to destroy multiple targets in a single flight. Airframe structures are being reinforced, electronics are being upgraded, and datalinks to the rest of the joint force are being installed. Nonetheless, metal fatigue, corrosion and parts obsolescence are gradually taking a toll, and potential adversaries like China are installing increasingly capable air defenses. If the U.S. wants to deter aggression in places where it is dangerous for surface forces to venture, then it must acquire about 100 new bombers with the requisite range, payload and survivability features. The Obama Administration is planning to spend $6 billion over the next five years on such an effort, designated the Long-Range Strike Bomber. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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