Former Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall is likely to be Secretary of the Air Force for the next four years. Among the myriad programs he must oversee, none is more important than the effort to develop a next-generation heavy bomber, designated the B-21. Kendall should make it an early and urgent goal of his tenure to understand the B-21 inside-out, for at least five reasons. First, the future of the Air Force and U.S. air power depends on the program’s success. Second, the bomber’s performance requirements are continuously evolving. Third, the bomber’s wartime effectiveness depends in part on other programs in a long-range strike “family of systems,” some of which are themselves secret. Fourth, the pricetag the Air Force is expecting to pay for each production version of the bomber may be unrealistic. Finally, there are dangers associated with sending a nuclear-capable bomber on conventional strike missions inside China that have not been thought through. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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