We will not pursue a development program for a follow-on Air Force bomber until we have a better understanding of the need, the requirement, and the technology (emphasis mine).This statement is pure political Bulls***. It is a statement that provides cover for an organizational blindspot whereby unpopular answers to tough questions can be avoided.
As I illustrated only a short while ago, the long-range strike question is one of the most thoroughly examined and best understood issues in defense. Let me provide a translation of the above; one that I assure you is FAR more accurate than the drivel shoved into the SecDef's announcement:
We will not pursue a development program for a follow-on Air Force bomber until we have an answer that will NOT threaten the Fighter Establishment and its aquisition strategies. We have grand hopes that we can develop promising technologies that will greatly improve the small and fast-mover capabilities while magically be of no benefit to long-range subsonic platforms.There. Much better.
With these magic technologies, our Fighter Mafiosi expect to be able to FINALLY get rid of all pesky non-fighter strike aircraft.
The most staggering thing in all this (to me) is that so many in the Fighter Establishment really and truly believe in their steeds and the nobility of their Crusade.
Looks like Return of the Bomber is set back, once again, by the Long-Range Blind Spot.
One Bright Spot
The recent creation of the Global Strike Command should re-establish a virile constituency for the LRS mission and mission needs. Its first 'provisional' Commander, BGen James M. Kowalski, is both an airpower theorist (see my earlier post where he is cited) AND a veteran practitioner of LRS. I only hope his selection is part of a process to groom him to take over the permanent job (or ACC) someday (It is at this time a three-star position). A competent advocacy for LRS could do much to turn the DoD's officially stated position against the entrenched parochial interests.