CSAF details bomber phase-in plan

CSAF details bomber phase-in plan

The Air Force’s new long range bomber will initially enter the fleet only capable of handling conventional ordnance, but then the service plans to certify it for nuclear weapons a little further down the line. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told House lawmakers Wednesday that the service is planning to phase in its “dual capabilities” to save money and, if possible, get its new bombers quicker.

Schwartz was asked about the bomber plans during the House Armed Services Committee’s latest marathon hearing about the dangers of potentially deep DoD budget cuts, the first at which he and the three other service chiefs appeared. Each one, in his turn, repeated the cautions that subordinates, industry advocates and observers all have given — that the implications of budget sequestration are just too horrific to contemplate.

Schwartz, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert; and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos all gave the performances for which they’d been invited: Each one metaphorically rolled around on the pitch like a European soccer star grabbing his knee, trying to coax a call from the ref.


The question now emerging is, just who is the ref? No one in the military-industrial-congressional complex needs to be convinced about the dangers of deep DoD budget reductions. In fact, it was congressional leaders themselves who agreed to the debt ceiling deal with the White House that primed the deadfall mechanism that leaders keep saying would clobber the Pentagon.

At any rate, once the chiefs’ warnings all were in the record Wednesday, the session resolved itself into a standard House hearing, with members quizzing the brass about their various parochial interests.

It was in this context that Schwartz was asked about the bomber, which he said remains a top priority for the Air Force. The goal, he said, was to design, build and field the airplanes as quickly and cheaply as possible, and once they were making their way into the fleet, then confirm they’d be able to take on the Air Force’s airborne nuclear deterrence mission.

Nuclear certification would begin with an eye toward the end of the service lives of the service’s B-2 and B-52 bombers, Schwartz said. The process would be “quite elaborate,” he said, involving electromagnetic pulse hardening and other intense testing, which is why it would likely be comparatively expensive and time-consuming. Schwartz assured lawmakers the bombers would be built from the start to handle the nuclear mission, but just not tested and certified for it right away. The goal is for them to be ready for nuclear missions as the B-52s and B-2s leave service.

Implicit in Schwartz’s assurances was that the Air Force can ultimately build its new bomber and, more basically, that the U.S. decides to keep its nuclear triad. As we saw at the Naval Submarine League conference, there are high-level talks between the White House and Strategic Command about the future of the full triad, and even the prospect of a common future Navy and Air Force ballistic missile. In Austerity America, the Air Force might have a hard time trying to make the case for a new missile and a new bomber, especially given the procurement “bow wave” forecast as its bomber, the KC-46A tanker and new F-35As all go into simultaneous full production.

Fine, the Air Force might say — we don’t want a dumb ‘ol missile with the stinky ‘ol Navy. There’s a case to be made that the best deal for the U.S. is to have a nuclear dyad that comprises Air Force bombers and Navy ballistic missile submarines. A “dual purpose” bomber gives you more bang for your buck, bomber types might say, because it can take both weekend turkey-shoot missions dropping conventional bombs (such as Libya) as well as keep on standby for Armageddon. All a land-based missile does is sit there hoping it’ll never be fired.

It’s all still highly theoretical, as Schwartz himself admitted to a lawmaker frustrated by the cloudy way ahead: “It’s not final,” Schwartz said, “until it’s in the president’s budget.”

What do you think?

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Most would probably agree that a new bomber is essential. I think it is harder to argue, convincingly, that the US cannot part with its Minutemen. As the article above points out, in the absence of full-scale nuclear war (in which case budgets are the least of our worries), land-based ICBMs are a complete waste of money. They do have the advantage of being able to launch at a moment’s notice (bombers have to get aloft and Ohios may be out of contact), but other than that, can someone tell me why we NEED to keep them? As this site has noted before, they cannot even participate in the PGS mission; Navy ballistic missiles would play that role.

I kind of like the redundancy of the triad. I think they just need to figure out how to keep the ICBM mission sustained indefinitely. There are a lot of top-secret capabilities that should not be sacrificed as we modernize.

I can of one reason to keep the ICBMs. As long as the advesary has them, we need them. Otherwise, we give them an upper hand in being to launch a rouge missile (or two, three, etc..) and we have NO response since it takes TIME to get the bombers off the ground and the subs to get into their launch positions.

i’m sold. what a powerful deterrent to always have in your back pocket. not just prior to hostilities either. Suppose we were in the middle of an escalating conventional conflict and it looked like we were going to lose. like say PAK FAs and J-20s were whipping our butts. wouldn’t it be good to have the option of possibly ending a war quickly before we lost all of our conventional forces?

What nonsense…

What does it matter if your nuclear retaliatory strike takes a few minutes longer to send off? And as for the USAF/USN being swept aside and overrun by the commie Golden Horde and their armadas of T-50s and J-20s — gimme a friggin’ break.

The mere fact that the ‘enemy’ may have some silo-launched nukes does not mean that it is imperative that we have the same. They are utterly redundant in a scenario where you have hundreds of highly accurate and practically invulnerable Trident II MIRVed SLBMs at your disposal. And that’s the scenario that exists for the foreseeable future.

Right because the other side wouldn’t retaliate against us with their own nuclear missles. Once nukes are used it’s checkmate.…for both sides. No one wins.

~Sigh~Whatever happened to first knowledge THEN opinion? The only problem with the Triad today is that people who were not paying atttention to such things before the Soviet Union dissolved have no idea WHY it exists. If one falls into this category it is easily remedied. 1. Study up a tiny bit on Game Theory. 2. Google “Keeping Bombers in the Triad: The Mix Is the Thing” and actually read up on the subject. At the time in what is in the actual history, the manned bomber need was being called into question, but the concept is the same. By using three delivery modes for any given level of funding, a potential enemy has to spend more time and resources to counter the force than if only two delivery modes are used.

Everyone is missing the major problem completely. WE CANNOT AFFORD anything near the current defense budget. END OF STATEMENT.

Until things change, the major effort must be to repair and replace the badly neglected “infrastructure” in our country. The task is large enough to make a significant reduction in unemployment for one of the hardest hit areas.

To date, the government has “bailed out” the “big dogs”, and left the average person to dangle in the wind.

It is true that various government sectors, including defense will suffer. Failing to recognize the necessity does not contribute to solving the problems. Refusing to allow “equitable taxing” is another problem. It may come home to roost when the next cycle of congressional elections begins.

Currently, we have a congress that pays far more attention to lobbyists than constituents and the real necessities.

You think everyone is missing the point.

Strange that you think you are smarter than the Air Force Chief of staff, Army Chief of staff… in your words “everyone” is missing the point.

O and you are going to fix the Nation’s unemployment, and tax everyone equally?
Wow you are amazing.

You are a military and poltical genius to?

Yes we can! And it can ome out of the other 94%-96% that isn’t the current defense budget. It’s just about peoples priorities. Be your own accountant..if you had to cut your personal costs, would you look at the sliver of your financial pie that only consists of 4% of the money you have and expect that to be where you make significant savings. This country spends exponentially more money on social programs than we do on defense. Only one of those is on the list of Congressional requirements as stated in the Constitution, and it aint social programs. I understand the need for social programs, but never at the expense of this Nation’s defense. Get your priorities straight. If we lose a war to a peer military nation, or even our superiority that dissuades nations from conflict with us, our economy goes down the drain. You think we’d have anywhere close to the social funding available that we do now? Our military strength increases our economic power.

What other side are you talking about retaliating?
1. Iran nukes Israel. We nuke Iran, we win, they lose.
2.China attacks the USA . We nuke them. We win they lose. If we nuke them because we have advanced warning, maybe their nukes all get hit before any get launched. We win big, very big. etc etc.

justin you are wrong the world fears our “food stamp first strike capabilities” !

Seriously though defense is around $550 billion (not including war funding) of a FOUR TRILLION dollar federal budget and yet all some talk about about is cutting defense, get real for gosh sakes.

Tell Bill Clinton we want the Peace Keepers back.

Wrong on multiple counts. A few missiles will always be needed to deter the maniacs. They need to think about the fact that once a ballistic missile is launched it cannot be recalled. (Unless WE push the self-destruct button?) It’s the bombers we need to downsize. If these things truly can penetrate enemy air space, that’s good. That only helps if WE launch a pre-emptive attack (called a sneak attack, like “those who eventually defeated us with their Toyotas and Hondas Japanese”) because they will only find empty launchers. Submarines? It’s all a function of how many on station 24/7 and how many missiles do we really need to send to make our point, which is mutually assured destruction. Maybe six. An equitable and simplistic decision would be to cut each leg of the Triad in half based on current affordability. The Joint Chiefs testimony? They are in denial and don’t care that the country is already technically bankrupt.

I care what the rest of the world thinks, but only so much. History has shown that there’s really only ever 1 predominant nation at a time. I tend to think that the US does more for the greater good (whole world) when we are at the top of that list as opposed to nations like Russia, China, japan, Germany.. just looking at somewhat recent history. So, i don’t care that defense get’s +550 billion (i’m all for better efficiency and accountability with that $), but we have too small a Navy and too small and old of an Air Force. Not the time to cut money from the defense budget. That’s what i am supposed to pay taxes for..

wrong site for those arguments.
You cannot enter in a menthal clinic saying: “you are all mentally sick”.
.….the patients do not appreciate that! :)

Just build the damn thing right.

A “few minutes” longer?? Obviously you haven’t spent much time in this business. Bottomline: the triad is EFFECTIVE. Each leg has it’s benefits and it’s the success of the triad that has avoid a nuclear scenario. Food for thought.….“Be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure, and more than sure, that other means of preserving peace are in your hands.” — Winston Churchill, 1952 address to US Congress.

There is no choice, USA must stay the first force of the world, because the world is very dangerous now, all over the place is instability. Europe fail to become a great force and just USA can stop the Chinese or Russia. If this is not, the world can fall in the world war 3, because of instability and economic crysis. The new bomber must be built and new technology weapon to. Buy F-35 and new penetrating bomber, and x-37 for space warfare. After you can have a more little infantry if you have high tech weapon instead.
God bless USA

All a land-based missile does is sit there hoping it’ll never be fired
All a nuclear bomb is sit there hoping it’ll never be dropped
All a sub-based nuclear missile does is cruise beneath the ocean hoping it’ll never be fired.

The same argument can be made for any leg of the triad, but the fact of the matter is that the Triad is more effective than a ‘Dyad’.

You’re splitting weapons and delivery systems though. A missile with a warhead does nothing else, but it is a delivery system. A bomb does in fact sit, but it requires a delivery system, as in a bomber, which obviously can do a lot more, a sub based missile is on a sub which can also do more than just sail around with missiles. I would agree the triad provides redundancy, but two portions of it are far more useful short of nuclear war. The PGS idea tries to make ICBMs more useful but its both dangerous to be popping off ICBMs in the world arena, plus it’s a day expensive way to lob a conventional munition.

If we get a GOP Administration in 2013, to prevent the “PAK FAs and J-20s from whipping our butts” we need 300 more F-22s! and maybe even by that time (2020 and forward) 200 of a 6th Generation fighter as well. Then we can win the conventional war and the Chinese and Russians can’t stop their aggression and go home with their tails between their legs.

Pretty fair and convincing argument in three short sentences. While the ancient minuteman might be argued to be worth ditching in the mid-term, I actually think the concept of a ‘common USN/USAF replacement’ might be worth studying. I might go further to have no problem as well, with a strategic joint-command even being in control of them taking both the Navy and AF specifically out of the ICBM mission in the traditional sense. But yes, either you need a strategic nuke deterrence or you don’t. If so, then you need a triad to maximize deterrence, via perceived and real survivability — even when deployed in reduced numbers.

Some day however, we’ll hopefully see a ‘summit’ between Europe-China-US-Russia doing away with all strategic weapons in a permanently verified way, as well as drastically cutting back tactical systems under a transparent process. If we are friendly enough to make multi-hundred billion dollar annual cross-border transactions, investments and trade and dependent on one another for global stability, why the hell do we still need to be growing and/or modernizing such strategic forces pointed at one another? Right?

Anyway, with regards to the next-gen Bomber… I assume it will be a pretty big Black budget since there’s no way an austere budget could afford the tanker, Bomber and F-35 simultaneously. I mean, that is one true classic strategic planning cluster in respect to disastrous timing… even if Govt tried to time it that perfectly starting 10–15 yrs ago, I don’t think they could.

Instead of the NGB thouh, my gut feeling is to probably support upgrading B-1R as an alternative solution for a 20-yr interim stopgap, developing long-range super-sonic/hyper-sonic conventional strike munitions and further developing UCAV variants capable of employing said stand-off munitions too.

They probably forgetting cruise missiles loaded on the bombers for the country’s self defense and emergency.

As long as the current president is in the White House, any capability lead we have is in jeopardy. According to him, we are not exceptional and never have been. Why should we be able to defend ourselves.

Wow, somebody on this forum who actually has a clue. I just retired from 25 years in the B-2 program, but what do I know about bombers.

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