Facing an uncertain budget environment in the coming months, the U.S. Air Force will nevertheless continue developing a new long-range strike bomber (LRS-B) capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons. “Long term, we’re committed to the long-range strike bomber. We’re going to try to keep programs like that on track,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said.
There is renewed speculation on unofficial Chinese websites that the country has closed a deal with Russia for licensed production of the Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic bomber. But there has been no confirmation from Moscow or Beijing, and a senior military researcher in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has discounted the speculation.
Civilian and military leaders of the U.S. Air Force outlined priorities they plan to defend against potentially severe budget cuts, citing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and a future long-range bomber specifically, among other systems and capabilities.
In another wide-ranging speech on future defense strategy, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the U.S. Air Force must increase its focus on asymmetric threats and unconventional warfare.