NGB Stopped For START

NGB Stopped For START

Did the Obama administration effectively drop the Next Generation Bomber as part of its arms control strategy? That is the theory posited by Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, the Air Force’s top Global Strike commander and 8th Air Force chief, at a breakfast meeting yesterday.

Defense Secretary Gates had indicated the bomber’s fate was uncertain back in late January. Gates told Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D-In.), that an earlier speech he had made in support of the bomber was delivered “at a time when the economic outlook was rather different than it is now and the prospects for the defense budget perhaps different. We need to look at all of the aspects of our strategic posture, the role of a next generation bomber, along with some of the other systems we’ve been talking about, clearly have to be a focus of the Quadrennial Defense Review.” So Gates was pretty clearly signalling that money and the country’s strategic posture would both play a role in delaying the bomber.

Also, as you read what Elder says, bear in mind what Gates said at his April 6 budget speech: “We will not pursue a development program for a follow-on Air Force bomber until we have a better understanding of the need, the requirement, and the technology.”

Christian Lowe, our man at DefenseTech, attended the breakfast with Gen. Elder and his story follows:

Elder wasn’t sure if this was the reason but thought it might have played a large role in the decision, but he said President Obama’s desire to reengage in strategic arms talks with Russia might have impacted the decision to punt the NGB. Reason is, if you go ahead with NGB you’re making it a part of the negotiation process, and Elder saw no need — based on arcane counting rules for warheads per bomber — to include the putative NGB in the negotiations.

“I suspect that one of the things that could be in play here, I don’t know this for a fact, it makes sense to me, is that you don’t want to lock yourself in on an airplane until you know what the counting rules are going to be. Why would I want a program this year that puts me in a bad position in terms of how I’m negotiating what the START negotiations are going to look like. … I would not want to tie my hands in the negotiations.”

If this is true, it would be a shame that the Obama administration would undercut our long-range strike capability for a more favorable negotiating position on some pie in the sky resurrection of antiquated nuclear arms reduction talks. What, am I watching “War Games” or “Failsafe” here? Are we getting back into Game Theory? I thought 1989 was 20 years ago…The Russians must be laughing all the way to the arms control bank on this one. Now their 100 year-old bombers are going to be matched up against our 100 year-old bombers — in that equation, the Russkies win.

“Since they’re looking at doing these negotiations this year, and I don’t know this for a fact that the secretary brought this up, normally I would say strategy should drive your force structure. … The counting rules in START for bombers are pretty onerous. … The way a B-52 is counted, it’s counted as carrying more weapons than you would want to carry operationally. … It’s a matter of let’s not lock ourselves in and save some money.”

Elder said the 2018 timeline for the NGB was tied to the retirement of the Air Launched Cruise missile which gives B-52s enough standoff range to be a viable strategic deterrent. But with the NGB falling by the wayside, then the B-52 will have to last until 2040. Yikes!

But, hey, maybe Obama and his negotiators with the Russians (and the Paks and Indians and Chinese and French and Israelis, etc.) can make good on his commitment to a nuclear free world before we even have to worry about centigenarian strategic bombers making up the bulk of our inventory? But I’m not holding my breath.

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I say let’s totally disarm no matter what the rest of the world does and when they see how peace loving we are they will follow suit and love and kindness will break out across the land.

“All we are saying is give peace a chance”

I hope that was a joke! because the second we get rid of our military we would be invaded. These countries that want us to give up nukes and down size our military would love nothing more than to rip your peace loving butt (along with your friends & family) out of your house and stomp your guts to death. Make no mistake about it , there is no place for weakness in this world ‚nor weak presidents . I really don’t like the direction our president is taking us in. As an average citizen, I was mad as hell about these big banks ‚and greedy CEOs , taking ‚taking ‚and taking with no regard for this country or it’s citizens. Then when their company goes belly up we are asked to pay for it. Our politicians give our country away it seems like on a daily basis , and we the average middle class citizen has to pay for it all. We give money to countries that hate us and what we stand for,as if we can buy their friendship. And now we are being asked to give up our security !

Yes it is! I am a defense hawk who would double the DOD budget if I was president. Thought my sarcasm was evident after quoting the John Lennon jingle.

bobbymike, why not triple it?

If that NGB decision was made in anticipation of negotiating positions later — the people making the decision have no idea how to negotiate. So the decision was almost certainly made that we could just live with our 1950s era bombers (the B-52 will have to be a big part of our bomber force for years to come) and hope that a future Administration will refresh our systems — before they fall out of the sky through sheer metal fatigue. And the way it is going (recall we built hundreds of B-52s, we built 100 B-1s, we built 32 B-2s) the next bomber built will consist of two airframes.
But back to negotiating — we should plan on building lots of very flexible bombers and plan to negotiate the ability to keep them. Adversaries of the future could attempt to keep up with us (building lots of fragile Blackjack bombers) or they could negotiate honestly. If we trade away all of our assets years before we even start negotiating — why would other countries take us seriously?

All of this is speculation. How bout some facts:

How many of these would we actually build considering we only have 21 B-2s and 187 F-22s? The NGB is going to cost at least the $2B the B-2 cost.

The NGB, unless designed for conventional bombing only, is going to cost a lot and we are going to have a few. So why even build it when we still have ICBMs and SSBNs?


Why not go for the best of both worlds?

The B-52 can do some things very well and, if we replaced the engines on it with new off the shelf aircraft engines, assuredly last several more decades. I’ve read that the overwhelming majority of its maintenance hrs go into keeping those ancient engines working.

We’re always going to need stand-off platforums for delivery of ever-more sophisticated missiles…why not keep it going BUT also acknowledge that a penetration weapon is needed? It might end up being that the FB-22 variant that was discussed some years ago would be the only thing that is budgetarily possible…but to tie your hands by committing to nothing…that is better?

I wonder if we’d be discussing the need for a NGB if we’d gone ahead and built 50–75 B-2’s back when the prodn line was active? I understand that everyone had decided its time had passed (while it was being made) but to stop at a force of 21 of them didn’t seem wise, either.

re-open the lines and build new ones… no sense in re-creating the wheel… will cost less then something soo advanced that we will never use! atleast the costs associated with running these things will go down.. plus i mean the current ones are projected to have a 100 yr shelf life… these things last a long time! build more!

What a load of impotent work.…We have nukes.
Its like a mask…


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