Joe Pappalardo: Everything You Need to Know About the Air Forces New Bomber

Defense contractors are now bidding on the right to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. This is what you need to know about the Air Force’s next big machine of death.

For Popular Mechanics, Joe Pappalardo writes: The U.S. Air Force this week made it official: They are officially in the market for a next-gen-stealth-0714-mdnnew bomber. In wonk speak, the service sent a formal Request for Proposals to defense contractors who will vie for the (at least) $55 billion program.

“Will the LRS-B be designed to deliver nukes? The Air Force has indicated that the priority for America’s new bomber is not an ability to drop nuclear bombs but to deliver other weapons”

Like any massive, classified national security effort, few things about the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) are exactly what they appear to be. So here’s a cheat sheet.

1. Our Bomber Fleet is Old—Very Old

The average B-52 Stratofortress is 50 years old, and the B-1 Lancer fleet has a mean age of 28. Now, there are plenty of things you can do with a B-52; you can fly over undefended terrain and drop bombs, or launch missiles from longer, safer ranges. But you can’t fly a B-52 anywhere that is guarded by the kind of top-notch, integrated air defense radar and anti-aircraft missiles that Russia sells and that China, Iran, Syria, and others use. Only the B-2 stealth bomber can breach those defenses. 

2. These Planes May Not Carry Nukes. Ever.

Here’s a question that’s not getting much attention: Will the LRS-B be designed to deliver nukes? The Air Force has indicated that the priority for America’s new bomber is not an ability to drop nuclear bombs but to deliver other weapons…(read more)

Popular Mechanics



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