Sustaining America’s Strategic Advantage in Long-Range Strike

This report presents four options to illustrate how the Defense Department might prioritize investments over time to meet DoD’s known and emerging long-range strike capability shortfalls. All options recommend developing an unmanned multi-mission aircraft to extend the range of the Navy’s carrier air wings. They also recommend procuring a small magazine of conventional prompt global strike weapons. Option 1 defers a new bomber decision until the mid-2020s to allow the maturation or invention of new technologies for an even more capable penetrating aircraft. Option 2 calls for developing a new standoff-only bomber without the stealth and supporting systems needed for it to survive in contested airspace. Option 3 accords priority to developing a new penetrating bomber first, while taking advantage of the lengthy remaining service lives of existing bombers for standoff attack operations. Option 4 suggests procuring one penetrating aircraft to replace the Air Force’s entire bomber force.