Tag Archives: Next Generation Bomber

Help STOP precipitous cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent

The extreme Left has not given up. Despite all the facts proving the need for continued nuclear deterrence and for a large, modern American nuclear deterrent, the extreme Left – led by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Ed Markey (D-MA, now a Senate candidate), the left continues to work to disarm America unilaterally.

Purporting to want to solve the problem of sequestration – which would make $85 bn in spending cuts in the federal budget this year and $110 bn in each successive fiscal year through FY2022, half in the defense budget and half in nondefense discretionary spending – Ellison has introduced a bill (cosponsored by 11 other House liberals, including Markey) which would replace the sequester with even more crippling and disastrous defense cuts and with massive tax increases, while completely shielding civilian (nondefense) spending – discretionary and nondiscretionary alike – from ANY cuts.

Thus, under Ellison’s plan, the ONLY agencies that would see cuts in their budgets would be the DOD and the Department of Energy (in its nuclear weapons programs).

Under the guise of wanting to cancel sequestration, Ellison and his 11 fellow liberal Democrats have proposed a treasonous, disastrous plan to completely gut the US military, including and especially its nuclear deterrent that provides a life insurance and a security umbrella for the US as well as over 30 allies.

Never before have I seen such a disingenous, dishonest, and treasonous bill (except those sponsored by Markey) – pretending to save the military from sequestration but calling for even deeper, more crippling, cuts to it, especially (but not exclusively) to America’s nuclear deterrent.

Now, House Republicans will likely kill the bill in committee (as they should), but it’s such a dangerous and treasonous bill, and such an act of political perfidy and dishonesty, that I’d like to nonetheless explain its dangerous provisions so that the public will be warned and its sponsors will be shown for whom they really are: traitors.

What is wrong with that bill?

To start with, EVERYTHING.

It begins with so-called “Congressional findings”, where Ellison and his fellow extreme leftists inserted a number of blatant lies. They falsely claim that America can afford to dramatically and unilaterally cut its nuclear deterrent even further because “the Cold War is over, the Berlin Wall is down, and the Soviet Union is gone”. They also falsely claim that further deep cuts can be done  without damage to US national security.

But those empty slogans, which House liberals have been repeating for months, are meaningless and irrelevant to the question of how many nuclear weapons America needs. The end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall does NOT mean that the need for nuclear deterrence (and for a large American nuclear deterrent) has significantly diminished or that America can afford to cut its nuclear arsenal still further, on top of the 75% of the cuts already made since 1991.

In fact, the opposite is true: the need for nuclear deterrence, and for a large American nuclear deterrent, has only INCREASED since the Cold War’s end, as China has dramatically expanded its nuclear arsenal (to up to 3,000 nuclear warheads now), Russia has expanded and modernized its own arsenal since 2000, and two new countries hostile to the US – Pakistan and North Korea – have joined the nuclear club, with Iran well on its way there.

Furthermore, while Russia, China, and North Korea are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies who rely on it for their security and indeed their own survival. These allies cannot afford to bet their survival on America breaking free of its disarmament kool-aid in the next 4 years. If the US cuts its nuclear arsenal significantly further, they will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons – and 66.5% of South Koreans ALREADY support such a course of action. (A large majority of South Koreans also want US nuclear weapons to be reintroduced to the Peninsula as a deterrent against North Korea.)

Today, Russia alone has up to 6,800 nuclear warheads (2,800 strategic and up to 4,00 tactical warheads), all of which are immediately deliverable. Russia’s fleet of 434 ICBMs alone can, due to the multiple-warhead carriage capacity of most of these ICBMs, deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS, while Russia’s 14-strong ballistic missile submarine fleet could deliver well over 2,000. Russia’s 251 strategic bombers can deliver 7 warheads each – 6 on nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and one as a freefall bomb. For its tactical warheads, Russia has a wide range of delivery systems: torpedoes, cruise missiles, surface ships, SRBMs, tactical aircraft, artillery systems, etc.

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads (most of which are immediately deliverable), as detailed here and here. On top of that, one also has to deter North Korea and Iran.

And no, a few hundred warheads would not suffice. They could destroy enemy population centers, but that would not deter the enemy – because Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian leaders do not value civilians’ lives. They care only about their military and economic assets and their tools of oppression. But to be able to target these, one needs thousands, not mere hundreds, of warheads – at minimum, the current 1,550 warheads allowed by New START, probably even more.

Deterrence means holding what the enemy REALLY values at risk. But then again, the Left rejects the entire principle of deterrence. Leftists think that military weakness guarantees safety and military strength is provocative. Ellison’s bill aims to make America as weak as possible.

No serious “analysts” or “experts” support these cuts

It also falsely claims that “many national security and arms control analysts and experts” say that the US should reduce its arsenal to “no more than 1,000 warheads.” But there aren’t any real “experts” or “analysts” calling for such cuts or such an arbitrary limit. The only people advocating that are utterly ignorant, but very opinionated advocates of unilateral disarmament, such as Tom Collina and Daryl Kimball of the ACA, Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares, Chuck Hagel of Global Zero, and the ignorant anti-nuclear hacks at the “Council for a Livable World.”

But these ignorant unilateral disarmament agitators have been calling for deep, unilateral cuts in America’s deterrent since the founding of their organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. They did not begin calling for America’s disarmament after the Berlin Wall fell, but much earlier – in the midst of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was still alive and very dangerous.

In other words, they have ALWAYS been singing the unilateral disarmament siren song – no matter what the times and circumstances were. And just as they were dead wrong during the Cold War, they’re dead wrong today.

And no serious “analyst” worth his salt, let alone an “expert”, would set an arbitrary limit on the US nuclear arsenal (“no more than X warheads”). A truly credible analyst would not set an upper limit on the nuclear deterrent and would call for however many warheads were necessary, also allowing for the possibility that he might be underestimating the need and for an increase of the arsenal should the need arise.

The pro-unilateral-disarmament hacks call for a firm upper limit (ceiling) on America’s nuclear deterrent, chosen arbitrarily at just 1,000 warheads, because they couldn’t care less about America’s security. All they care about is disarming the US unilaterally.

The bill also falsely claims that significant savings can be made by cutting the nuclear deterrent. But that’s also a blatant lie. The cost of maintaining it – the warheads, the delivery systems, and the supporting facilities – is only $32 to $36 bn per year, i.e. less than 1% of the ttoal federal budget.

Cutting it even by half – by $16-18 bn per year – wouldn’t come close to even making a dent in the federal budget deficit ($1 TRILLION every year). Eliminating the entire ICBM fleet would “save” only $1.1 bn per year; eliminating the bomber fleet, only $2.5 bn.

What does the bill call for?

So let’s see what the bill’s provisions are.

It would:

  • Prohibit any funding for maintaining the B61 and W78 warheads.
  • Require cutting the ICBM fleet from 450 to no more than 200 missiles.
  • Require retiring B-52 and B-2 bombers from nuclear deterrence and disabling their nuclear carriage capability.
  • Requiire cutting the ballistic missile submarine fleet to just 8 boats, down from 14, and procuring only 8 replacement SSBNs.
  • Prohibit the development of any replacement ICBM, even though the current fleet of ICBMs will, due to its age, retire by no later than 2030.
  • Prohibit making the F-35 nuclear-capable.
  • Prohibit the development of the urgently-needed Next Generation Bomber (the replacement for B-1s and B-52s) until FY2025, which would delay its entry into service by a decade, until FY2035 at the earliest (unless the Left decides to delay it further). For why the NGB is urgently needed and absolutely necessary, see here and here.
  • Prohibit the construction of the urgently-needed CMRR and Uranium Production Facilities (needed to produce plutonium pits for plutonium wahreads and highly-enriched uranium for uranium warheads, respectively), whose construction is REQUIRED by the Senate resolution of ratification of New START and the FY2013 NDAA.

In addition, the bill would gut America’s conventional capabilities as well:

  • It would dramatically cut F-35B and C procurement while also strictly limiting the procurement of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, often touted as an alternative for the F-35, to just a few hundred aircraft, well short of the Navy’s and the Marines’ needs (not to mention that the Super Bug cannot take off and land vertically).
  • It would permanently cut the carrier fleet to just 10 vessels by prohibiting the construction of the next USS Enterprise, CVN-80.
  • It would limit Virginia class attack submarine production to just one boat per year, thus dramatically cutting the attack submarine fleet’s size over the short and long term while also creating inefficiencies, because economies of scale (made by procuring two submarines per year) would be lost.
  • It would kill the excellent V-22 Osprey, which has performed magnificently in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and is loved by its Marine pilots, without replacement.

The bill is not about saving the military from sequestration or saving taxpayers money. The bill is about gutting the US military’s nuclear and conventional capabilities alike, particularly the nuclear deterrent, which is responsible for keeping America and over 30 of its allies secure. And besides making you and all of us much less secure, and hostages to Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals, it would also raise your (and everyone’s) taxes.

This is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

The bill must be utterly rejected and killed in committee. Furthermore, its sponsor (Keith Ellison) and cosponsors (Ed Markey and 10 other stridently liberal Democrats) must be unmaksed and outed for whom they really are: traitors.

Why the Next Generation Bomber is needed

There are some who question whether the Air Force’s planned Next Generation Bomber is needed.  An example is this article published by the liberal CPI, wherein David Axe asked many questions that are easy to answer. In this paper, I will answer them and thus show why the NGB is absolutely needed.

First, I’ll rebut his questions regarding the requirement for next-gen bomber, and then, explain why it can be developed and produced affordably.

The requirement is clear, and it’s undisputable. The air defense systems of China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and even North Korea are dense, very deadly, and, excepting Iran and North Korea for now, very modern. Russian and Chinese air defense systems have proliferated and continue to proliferate globally.

Any notion that the B-52 or the B-1 could survive in such an environment is ridiculous and not supported by any facts. The B-52 and the B-1 would be useless in any defended airspace; nowadays, they’re useful only for COIN campaigns in very benign environments where the only opponents are insurgents unable to contest control of the air. David Axe touts these bombers’ upgrades, but these “upgrades” won’t make them viable in any contested airspace. These bombers are not stealthy, due to a lack of both a stealthy shape AND radar-absorbent materials. No amount of upgrades or even RAMs can overcome this huge deficiency. It’s inherent in these bombers’ nonstealthy design with perfect radar wave reflectors. Even legacy Soviet SAM systems like the SA-2, SA-3, SA-4, SA-5, and SA-6, with upgraded radar, could easily detect and shoot down these aircraft – and they were widely exported. Matters are even worse if you’re facing the S-300 (which Russia, Belarus, China, and Venezuela all have), China’s HQ-9 and HQ-16, or Russia’s S-400.

For purposes of any campaigns in any contested airspace, the B-52 and the B-1 practically do not exist, leaving the USAF with just 20 B-2s. But B-2s’ stealth technology is 1980s’ vintage. They won’t remain stealthy forever. Even if they did, 20 stealthy bombers are insufficient for campaigns against anyone but a trivial opponent. Bombing campaigns against the forementioned countries would require a huge number of sorties, and consequently, a LARGE number of stealthy bombers.

Cruise missiles are no substitute for the NGB. Even buying 50,000 of them would not help, as they are easily detectable and easy to shoot down. So if the USAF bought 50,000 cruise missiles, the vast majority of them would be easily shot down by the opponent’s air defense systems, and only a tiny minority of them would reach their targets. Now THAT would be a real waste of money – NOT buying a needed next-gen bomber.

Cruise missiles are also TOO EXPENSIVE to be used en masse, which is what Axe and others seem to be proposing. The reason why so few Tomahawks have been used in past wars is because… they’re too expensive. In 1996, CENTAF commander Gen. Chuck Horner was ordered to stop launching Tomahawks after just 100 were used because of their cost. Moreover, once you expend a cruise missile, you can’t use it again. It’s gone. Money is thus blown. By contrast, a bomber, once you buy it, can fly for 50 years or more. It’s an investment you make that pays off many times over during several decades.

Bombing campaigns over China – if the PRC starts a war – are viable and would be necessary to break the PRC’s back (and thus to win). The point of wars is WINNING, not achieving a draw. What Wayne Hughes (cited by Axe) is proposing is self-limiting, which would lead to self-defeat. He’s proposing a limited war doctrine of the same kind that caused defeat in Vietnam and nearly caused defeat in Korea.

Winning in war requires breaking the enemy’s capability and/or willingness to make war. Winning any war against China (or any other adversary) requires breaking its warmaking capability, which requires large-scale strikes against its military bases, nuclear/ballistic missile stockpiles, weapon factories, bunkers, and military units/SAM batteries/missile regiments. That can only be done by bombers.

Secondly, can the USAF deliver the bomber on budget?

If it pursues it in a no-frills manner as promised, it can. There are BIG differences between this program and the B-2. The B-2 was designed from stratch, and used mostly new parts. The NGB will have very few new components and will mostly use parts already used for other aircraft – from mission computers, to engines, to radar, to bomb bay and landing gear bay doors, to the landing gear itself.

The CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger has estimated that such a bomber, with a 20,000 lb payload, would cost only $440 mn dollars, not $550 mn, so the USAF has probably planned for a large MOE. He furthermore listed several ways in which the DOD could achieve the low $440 mn unit cost, including reusing existing aircraft parts, fully funding the EMD phase, and purchasing enough test vehicles to weed out any bugs.

Furthermore, the total projected program cost – $55 bn – is the cost of the TOTAL program over its duration over many decades. Even if it lasted only one decade, it would be only $5.5 bn per year. If it’s done over 2 decades, it will cost only $2.75 bn annually.

Removing a pilot cockpit would save only a pittance. It would reduce the aircraft’s weight, and thus cost, only by 4%, as it wouldn’t make a meaningful difference in the weight of a large, heavy plan like a bomber. The DOD buys planes by the pound, so no large weight savings mean no large cost savings. Yet, a drone would be VERY vulnerable. Its comm links could break down or be jammed by the enemy, who could also commandeer a drone; or it could somehow else go haywire. The capture of a Sentinel drone by the Iranians proved this.

BTW, Axe is contradicting himself. He repeatedly underlines the risks related to an unmanned plane’s development (let alone as large as a bomber), yet, he claims that making the bomber unmanned would yield savings which Robert Gates and Gen. James Cartwright dreamed about. So he’s contradicting itself. Which is it, Mr Axe? Would an unmanned bomber be less or more costly and risky than a manned one?

And if an optionally manned bomber – the solution offering the USAF maximum flexibility – becomes too risky to develop, the Service can make it purely manned. Problem solved.

Thirdly, the article by Axe contains many false claims about how the B-2 and NGB sagas unfolded.

The B-2 did NOT cost $3 bn dollars to purchase, not even including R&D funds. It cost only $1.2 bn to buy, and only including research and development costs. Even then, it would have cost significantly less if the DOD had bought the 132 bombers originally planned (as it should have), instead of a puny 21. Unfortunately, the hunt for the “peace dividend” was already underway, so the B-2 was killed along with many other crucial weapon programs. As a result of these idiotic decisions, America’s long-range conventional strike capability is now limited to 20 stealthy bombers.

The NGB was not killed because the USAF overloaded it with pricey gizmos. It was killed for purely political reasons, due to Obama’s desire for defense cuts (to fund his unconstitutional domestic programs), and of course, Cartwright’s meddling, as the defense weakling and strident liberal who was then the VCJCS didn’t want America to have any weapon that could challenge China or Russia. (Cartwright, as the leader of the “Global Zero” group, has recently proposed that America essentially unilaterally disarm itself while Russia, China, and others are building up their nuclear arsenals. That should tell you a lot about his leftist ideology.)

But Gates endorsed a new bomber program in 2010 – while Cartwright was still VC of the JCS still the frontrunner for Chairman. He did so after the DOD’s 2010 QDR, in a holistic analysis, found a real need for the NGB. Gates consequently requested 200 mn for the NGB in the FY2011 defense budget – a year earlier than Axe claims. Meanwhile, the CSBA, which Axe likes to quote, found in its own holistic, impartial analysis, that 100 NGBs are indeed very much needed, and that without them, the USAF will lose its long range penetration capability when the B-2 loses its.

Gates has reaffirmed the need for the NGB several times since then, as has his successor, two successive CSAFs, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, multiple retired USAF generals, and analysts from the CSBA, the Heritage Foundation, the National Defense University, and other entities.

And if Leon Panetta, faced with a $487 bn (and potentially $1 trillion) cut to his department’s budget took care to find money for the NGB, it must be worth it.

No, the NGB will not be on the chopping block in the 2020s. This program is too important for the USAF, and there’s a clear requirement for it. If anything gets cancelled, it will be the F-35, which can’t do long range strike and is not truly stealthy.

The Next Generation Bomber is needed, and fast.