Say what you want about the USAF - but they are thinking and planning right to meet our long range strike needs.
The U.S. Air Force chief of staff says the service is not going to go through the B-2 experience again—overdesigning a bomber and then having to buy fewer of them.Now, imagine if you will what we would have right now if we had the same idea inside NAVAIR circa 88-92?
Analysts suggest the requirement for the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program could be as high as 200 aircraft as the aircraft begins to replace aging B-1s and B-52s.
The problem is how to take advantage of the new technology without breaking the budget or generating so much political backlash that the bomber program is reduced or canceled. The B-2s ended up costing more than $2 billion apiece because the program was closed down so early.
“We are going to make our best effort to not over-design the aircraft,” says Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. “We are intent on ordering a capability that is not extravagant.”
We had a very good evolutionary product ready to go (in the face of the post-Cold War draw down) in the A-6F/G .... but noooooo .... had to keep up with the Church of the Stealth .... and we got butkus for deep strike.
With that range, payload, dwell time, and two person flexibility - imagine its utility over the nipple-feeding Hornets over the last decade. Oh well.
On a similar note - it is a shame that we could not keep the DDG(X) program going with the same "marching orders" that the USAF is giving its bomber folks. Hey ... even an FFG(X) would be nice .... but we don't live in that world.
Good call for the USAF - don't frack it up.