Bomber Not Derailed by Sentinel’s Loss

Despite an RQ-170 Sentinel and its stealth secrets falling into Iranian hands—and, presumably, those of patrons in Beijing and Moscow—the Air Force isn’t changing its plans for the future long-range-strike bomber, a service spokesman told the Daily Report. The Air Force has maintained that the LRS-B would be based on low-risk, already developed stealth to keep its cost down and schedule short. We wanted to know if Sentinel’s loss had changed the plan. “Historically, new advanced aircraft weapon systems, such as the B-2 and F-22, take 15-plus years to go from program start to fielding,” responded Maj. Chad Steffey. “Near-peer competitors will continue to pursue advanced technologies, but they will face a significant gap between fielding them and being able to effectively challenge the air domain.” Steffey noted that “the employment of [low observables] is very complicated and the US maintains a superior advantage in the tactics, training, and maintenance” related to signature control. “Using proven technologies” in the bomber “will help to maintain program emphasis on affordability and provide senior leadership information needed to make the capability and cost tradeoffs to hold procurement unit costs at estimated target,” he said.