AFA: New bomber program ‘underway’

The Air Force has kicked off its effort to field a new long range bomber in the 2020s, service officials say.

ORLANDO — The Air Force has kicked off its effort to field a new long range bomber in the 2020s, service officials revealed Friday.

“There’s a competition,” said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley during a Feb. 24 press conference at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference here. “The program is underway, the requirements, the cost parameters have been set by the Secretary of Defense and we’re executing in that direction . . . we’ve identified the target delivery for the mid ’20s.”

As you know, the air service plans on buying 80 to 100 of the new bombers that are meant to be developed quickly by using existing technologies and relying on other members of the “family” of long range strike systems to provide electronic warfare (EW) and ISR during strike missions.

Here’s what Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz said about how the service is going to ensure the new bomber doesn’t suffer delays and cost overruns that have afflicted the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“We’re not trying to jam all of these advanced capabilities,” — such as ISR, EW and communications support — into the new airplane, said the secretary.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates “set the requirements for the program, the parameters that he wanted us to use and he directed that we conduct this in a streamlined fashion through the rapid capabilities office,” said Donley. “We’re putting in place, we think, the foundations that will keep the program under control. I’m not suggesting that it’s not going to be a challenge; this is complex work. But we think we’re doing the right things up front to set the conditions for success.”

Schwartz added that, “among those conditions is disciplined requirements. Although some have suggested that supersonic dash might be a requirement for such a platform, you won’t hear that from us.”