The Long-Range Strike Bomber is a leading element of the Pentagon’s new offset strategy revealed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week, but so far, no increase in LRS-B units is deemed necessary, said Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the Air Force’s top uniformed weapons buyer. The LRS-B is “part of leading” into the offset strategy because it’s oriented toward “global reach,” prosecuting targets in “denied environments,” and because it’s “part of a family of systems,” all hallmarks of Hagel’s offsets, she told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19. The LRS-B started out as an effort “to understand what was in the realm of the doable, in terms of what the technology could bring” and “fits very nicely into the strategy the Secretary has laid out,” said Pawlikowski. The same is true of a so-called sixth generation fighter, which she said would likely be “less about the platform,” meaning not so much an airplane as the “game-changing” technologies on it. Despite the good fit, Pawlikowski said “we don’t see any reason” at this time to increase the number of LRS-Bs from the currently planned 80 to 100 airframes. “That seems to be about the right spot, again, seeing that it’s part of a family of systems,” she said. (For more of our Pawlikowski coverage, read Deep in the Heart of T-Xs.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.