diva href=”http://bp3.blogger.com/_RRbP6fpJWAc/RkhTc5Y6MPI/AAAAAAAAAPE/XXm3RK-HM5Q/s1600-h/AIR_B-52H_B-1B_B-2_Together.jpg”img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5064389536884863218″ style=”FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand” alt=”” src=”http://bp3.blogger.com/_RRbP6fpJWAc/RkhTc5Y6MPI/AAAAAAAAAPE/XXm3RK-HM5Q/s320/AIR_B-52H_B-1B_B-2_Together.jpg” border=”0″ //a strongGOOD NEWS:/strong There is widespread agreement within the USAF that a new long-range strike platform is needed. This is understandable given the B-52H Stratofortress fleet’s age (40-50 years), the B-1B Lancer’s internal power and electronics issues, both of these platforms’ low survivability against advanced air defense systems, and the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber’s very small numbers (21, of which 7-12 are generally operational). Inside Defense reports that the US Air Force is proposing a $5 billion initial investment over the next few years to develop a next-generation long-range strike platform, with a fly-off at the end before selection. They wish to meet the Pentagon’s goal of fielding a new bomber fleet by 2018.br /div/divbr /diva href=”http://bp2.blogger.com/_RRbP6fpJWAc/RkhTnpY6MQI/AAAAAAAAAPM/p22IS0oFYg0/s1600-h/AIR_FB-22_Concept.jpg”img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5064389721568456962″ style=”FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand” alt=”” src=”http://bp2.blogger.com/_RRbP6fpJWAc/RkhTnpY6MQI/AAAAAAAAAPM/p22IS0oFYg0/s320/AIR_FB-22_Concept.jpg” border=”0″ //astrongBAD NEWS:/strong Officials disagree on what kind of aircraft or missile should be designed to meet the requirement. A single plane? A missile? A family of aircraft? Manned or unmanned? A fighter-bomber like the FB-22/FB-23 idea to fill the FB-111’s vacant shoes, or a full-reach heavy bomber? A traditional land-based platform, or should it be carrier capable? Something comparable to the $2 billion B-2s to take on the toughest strike missions – or more of a utility aircraft like some of the “arsenal aircraft” proposals, aimed at replacing the B-52s with a platform based on a passenger jet or C-17 that would be more economical to fly and maintain? And where do proposals to simply re-engine the B-52 fleet fit in? Until (unless) this is all sorted out, Ramp;D efforts are unlikely to meet with much real success – and issues of future force structure remain open questions./div/div

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