The 2006 QDR called for the Air Force to develop a next generation bomber to be ready by 2018; an initiative that promptly went nowhere. Now, the very term “next generation bomber” is “dead” in the halls of the Pentagon, reports John Tirpak, citing comments made yesterday by Air Force Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements.
Breedlove says what is being discussed is something much smaller than the NGB would have been, and though stealthy, it will not be designed to penetrate dense SAM belts like the NGB. It will be more of a “utility infielder” for a family of strike platforms under consideration.
There is a “lively debate” going on at the Pentagon regarding long range strike and penetrating platform cost (very high) versus the cost of enemy guided missile defenses and battle networks (very low). Importantly, Breedlove said that for the first time, requirements for a major aircraft are not coming from Air Combat Command, but are coming down from OSD.
-- Greg Grant