LRASM and Power Projection

Command and control, sensors, and key weapons are part of the Air Force’s plan to improve its power projection forces in the near term, Air Force leaders told a House Armed Services Committee panel recently. Maj. Gen. James Jones, testifying before the HASC seapower and power projection forces subcommittee on April 2, said the 2015 budget emphasizes key investments in the bomber force to sustain readiness. These include conventional weapon retargeting for B-52s, modernizing the BUFF’s internal weapons carriage capabilities, and modernizing the B-2 fleet’s defensive management system. The DMS upgrade, which was deferred some two years due to budget restrictions, will help the B-2 improve penetration of “dense threat environments,” and improve survivability, said Jones. William LaPlante, USAF’s civilian acquisition boss, said the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) will fill a “dire need in the Pacific,” once it is initially fielded on the B-1 in 2018. LaPlante cautioned, however, that costs were key to its success. “We’re being challenged, quite frankly, by numbers,” he said, and LRASM’s success in filling urgent PACOM requirements will be linked to being able to produce sufficient quantities of the weapon.