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U.S. Must Invest More In Its Geriatric Bomber Force

This 4th of July, Americans witnessed flyovers of our airpower. It was a far cry from the airpower displays over Washington, D.C., that I viewed as a boy on national holidays in the late 1950s. Then, dozens of B-47 bombers literally cast a shadow over the viewers. On this Fourth, only three bombers were on display­­—a B-52 built in the Kennedy years; a B-1B built during the Reagan administration; and our “newest” bomber, the B-2, over 30 years of age.

To put the current bomber deficit situation in historical context, in 1957 the Air Force had 2,334 bombers in its inventory; in 1990 it had 411; the 2021 budget plans for 140. Yes, times have changed, but arguably the security challenges for the foreseeable future are much more complex and challenging than ever before. 

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Air Force bomber plan: B-2, B-52 and B-1 to fly into 2040

The B-52 will be armed with long-range, nuclear cruise missiles? the B-2 will elude the most modern air defenses and the B-1B bomber will fire hypersonic weapons — if the Air Force?s plan for the next several decades comes to fruition.

Air Force weapons developers are immersed in an intricate plan to bring the service?s bomber fleet into future decades — by adding weapons, avionics and networking technologies to current aircraft and moving quickly to bring new B-21 bombers to the force.

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