Wednesday, November 11, 2015

LRS-B Faces Challenging Budget Outlook

LRS-B Faces Challenging Budget Outlook: Constrained US Air Force budgets over the coming decade will likely pit the Joint Strike Fighter against the Long Range Strike Bomber, potentially making the bomber project vulnerable to congressional deficit hawks, a panel of experts said Tuesday.

Speaking at a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event, Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in defense issues, said Congress has not yet accepted – as the Pentagon has – that the US no longer enjoys worldwide aerial superiority.

This makes the LRS-B program vulnerable to cuts by a cost-conscious Congress, much as the B-2 became a sacrificial lamb to budget-balancing efforts in the 1990s, she said.

“The Air Force budget is not equipped to fully support this program already,” she said, noting that space already consumes 15 percent of the Air Force’s budget. Other modernization programs, including two-thirds of the nuclear triad, as well as a recapitalization of its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and development of a new trainer aircraft, also face budget crunches.