The Military and Political Potential of Conventionally Armed Heavy Bombers

by Stephen T. Hosmer, Glenn A. Kent


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This report explores the major contribution that a conventionally armed heavy bomber force could make to U.S. national security. It examines (1) the potential military and political utility of a bomber force armed with modern conventional weapons and munitions, (2) the approach for obtaining the requisite capabilities for such a force, and (3) the implications of a conventionally armed bomber force for U.S. arms control policy. The authors believe that the U.S. Air Force should dedicate a force of approximately 75 to 100 heavy bombers (B-52s now and advanced technology bombers later) to conventional missions. To provide the standoff required for B-52s to operate in high-threat environments, the Air Force should develop and acquire long-range cruise missiles and equip these missiles on an evolutionary basis with modern sensors, on-board engagement systems, dispensers, and conventional munitions.

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