Senator: Bomber Numbers Matter

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced a bill that would add congressional oversight to any decision to reduce the size of the Air Force’s bomber fleet. S. 1265, the Long Range Bomber Sustainment Act of 2015, prevents the retirement of B-1B, B-2A, or B-52H aircraft unless the Defense Department certifies that the drawdown would not result in a loss of operational capability, states Rounds’ May 11 release. He presented the bill the same day. “Long-range bombers play an important role in our national defense strategy,” said Rounds, whose state hosts B-1 bombers at Ellsworth Air Force Base. “While we can expect some bomber retirements as we develop the new Long Range Strike Bomber, it is critical the turnover does not lead to an insufficient number of bombers in our fleet,” he added. The bill’s original cosponsors include senators from states also hosting bombers: Bill Cassidy (R) from Louisiana, home to B-52s; Heidi Heitkamp (D) and John Hoeven (R) from North Dakota, home to B-52s; and John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R), home to B-1s. B-2s are based in Missouri.