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Experts discuss future long-range strike bomber requirements

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brian Stives
  • 8th Air Force Public Affairs
More than 30 military and civilian strategic air power experts gathered at Eighth Air Force's temporary headquarters here May 5 to discuss ideas for a new long-range strike bomber.

Called the Bomber Advisory Group, the long-range strike luminaries were hosted by Maj. Gen. Floyd Carpenter, Eighth Air Force commander and commander of Strategic Command's Air Forces Strategic.

The group examined past and current global strike success stories and strategic air power's role in the 21st century. The group also brainstormed ways to bring Barksdale's surrounding Shreveport-Bossier City community into the thinking about the future of strategic air power.

The conference welcomed guest speaker Dr. Rebecca Grant, director of the Gen. William Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies, and Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. Past Mighty Eighth commanders Lieutenant Generals Phillip Ford, Tom Keck and Bob Elder also attended.

"I'm humbled to be here with you all," said Dr. Grant in her remarks. Not all the nation's decision-makers understand why America must build a new bomber right now, Dr. Grant said, "and it is up to the practitioners of strategic air power to help us frame that answer - why does America need a new bomber right now, what are these missions?"

General Carpenter seemed ready to accept that challenge on behalf the Group.

"This group is quite a distinguished group of people," said General Carpenter. "We need advocates for these types of capabilities," he said. The general pointed out the prior Eighth Air Force commanders and industry leaders who know from experience how to articulate the nation's need for long-range bombers.

During her overview of strategic airpower, Dr. Grant discussed the evolution of bombers from 1917 on, as they addressed national strategy and security needs.

"Air power is key to our foreign policy," she said. "Look what we did with Libya," referring to Operation Odyssey Dawn. "Air power was key to the ability to have that response."

In the Air Force Posture Statement for 2011, the Honorable Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, discusses the need for a new long-rang strike bomber.

"We must sustain our ability to consistently hold any target on the planet at risk with the development of a Long-Range Strike Family of Systems capability - including a new penetrating bomber - to create desired effects across the full range of military operations in both permissive and contested environments," Secretary Donley said.

In January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced plans for the Air Force to invest in a new long-range, penetrating, and nuclear-capable bomber capable of either manned or unmanned operations, according to the Posture Statement.

"A major focus of this program is to develop an affordable, long-range penetrating strike capability that delivers on schedule and in quantity," Secretary Donley said. "This aircraft will be designed and built using proven technologies, will leverage existing systems to provide sufficient capability, and allow growth to improve the system as technology matures and threats evolve."