Monday, April 02, 2007

Why so few US bombers?

Technology now enables new American bombers to deliver pinpoint accuracy but all the money is going to more vulnerable fighter-bombers. The reason is a pilot preference for the sexy fighters and the millions already spent bribing Congress to approve the massive F-22 and F-35 programs. A few loitering high-flying bombers now make more sense than squadrons of fast, stealthy, low-flying F/Bs. Economics alone may mean this will change but at a glacial pace. A study of future military needs will likely show a need for more long range bombers and fewer other aircraft. Easterbrook when he gets away from science and talks technology like here is smart:
It's true that the Pentagon does need some new fighters with updated technology. The F-22 is head and shoulders better than any other fighter ever built, while the F-35 would allow three services to replace their radar-visible fighters with a stealthy plane. But after $320 billion is spent building hundreds of F-22s and thousands of F-35s, how would they be used? Only a few would be employed in the interceptor role of shooting down enemy fighters, since no adversary nation is even attempting to manufacture fighters or air-to-air missiles capable of contesting those the United States already has. Plans call for the majority of the new F-22s and F-35s to be employed mainly for dropping smart bombs from low altitude. That is, they will do at fantastic expense what new satellite-guided devices from bombers can do relatively cheaply. This is why the Pentagon has not been crowing much about the success of its bombers above Afghanistan and Iraq: If that were understood, the case for spending $320 billion on smart-bombing fighters would fade.

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