LRS-B Drives New Bomber Roadmap

Global Strike Command boss Gen. Robin Rand will brief an updated bomber roadmap to Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and the heads of the other major commands within a month, Rand said in a press conference at AWS16. The new plan begins to take account of the Long-Range Strike Bomber now that the contract has been awarded and Boeing’s protest resolved. The plan’s latest revision will “modify and refine where … we want to be in 2025 and out, based on capacity and ?capability” as well as “what are we going to be able to afford and maintain?” Rand said he doubts the LRS-B will be “additive” to the bomber fleet because it would be “very difficult” to add the pilots, aircrews, and maintainers, as well as an additional logistics train to the bomber force within the expected limits of manpower and funding. “As we get closer to the (deployment of the) LRS-B, that will inform us if we’re going to do further modernization with the B-1, the B-2, the B-52,” Rand explained. “If we’re going to keep all of them and add the LRS-B, we’re going to have to start lead-turning that and start producing more bomber aircrews and maintainers. And I don’t envision we’ll go in that direction but … it could change.” Welsh will make the call on whether to accept Rand’s recommendations. Phasing out existing bombers for the LRS-B will have to be done “very, very prudently so that we are able to meet combatant commander requirements” for current fights while maturing the LRS-B system, Rand said.