Think Tank Calls For Long-Range Airpower


The U.S. Air Force should aim for an operational force of 120 stealth bombers, comprising new Long Range Strike Bombers or a mix of LRS-Bs and B-2s. according to a new study of combat airpower produced by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, while the U.S. Navy should pursue a high-end unmanned combat air system capable of penetrating against advanced air defense threats. 

The CSBA issued its report, co-written by former Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance boss Lt Gen Dave Deptula and Mark Gunzinger, on Monday, in support of the influential think-tank's push for a rebalanced defense budget with greater focus on air and seapower. Gunzinger and Deptula plan a full briefing on the report later - and, for the time being, Gunzinger is reluctant to say exactly what would be cut to pay for the new weapons. A front-line force of 120 LRS-Bs would mean building 174 of the new bombers, or 154 if the B-2s are retained, compared with 80-100 LRS-Bs planned today. 

The report also comes down in favor of a Navy UCAS that can survive against the toughest threats and perform ISR and deep-strike missions. The definition of the Navy's proposed Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (Uclass) continues to be a source of controversy, with some contractors and Pentagon interests advocating for a less capable but less expensive system tailored for overwater ISR and counter-terror missions. Deptula and Gunzinger also suggest that the Navy could move beyond its goal of having only 4-6 UCAS per aircraft carrier. 

In a commentary posted last week, Deptula and Gunzinger argue that the UCAS should have "broadband" stealth - implying a flying-wing configuration - a 4,000 lb weapon load (some low-end Uclass requirements call for a 1,000-pound load), and an unrefueled range twice that of any manned fighter. 

The CSBA has yet to talk in detail about what cuts would be made elsewhere to pay for the new stealth platforms. Deptula is a strong F-35 supporter - so despite the emphasis on greater range and broadband stealth, it would be surprising to see the final report recommend cutting that program. The choice would then be to cut land-force budgets - the report states that "breaking old budget apportionment habits would be a step toward creating a balanced combat air force" - or retire non-stealthy fighters, or a combination of the two measures, 

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


Aug 27, 2015

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 14

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Aug 14, 2015

Bonanza Travel Pays 3

The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza has an impressive production record, so perhaps the marketers back in 1949 were onto something when they coined the phrase "Bonanza travel pays."...More
Aug 14, 2015

Venerable Boeing 727 Prototype To Fly Again 28

The most famous 727, the prototype aircraft which would join United as N7001U, was delivered to the airline in October 1964 having served its time as a Boeing test aircraft....More
Aug 13, 2015

Aviation Week And The Bomb

Aviation News did not predict how nuclear weapons would change the world. But neither did anyone else....More
Aug 13, 2015

Collins Radar Takes The Ups And Downs Out Of Flying

Turbulence? Rockwell Collins had a solution for those bumpy rides in the early 80s with its WXR-700 Doppler Weather Radar....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×