Bomber Futures

The Air Force’s entire bomber fleet will eventually be replaced by the Long-Range Strike Bomber, Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, 8th Air Force commander, told a House Armed Services Committee panel Thursday. The LRS-B “will be the long-range bomber” once the other aircraft have been retired, a fact Clark said is spelled out in a new bomber roadmap still being developed. Even so, Clark said the B-52 is expected to remain in service “up to 25 more years,” and to get there, in his opinion, “it’s critical” to replace the BUFF’s powerplants. The existing motors are more than 50 years old, require increasing amounts of maintenance, and “spare parts are getting more scarce,” he said. New engines will allow the B-52 to burn less gas, get to higher altitudes, go further, carry more payload, and “enhance everything we need a bomber to do,” Clark asserted. Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said recently the Air Force has started preliminary discussions with industry about re-engining the B-52 fleet.