Comparing the Cost of Penetrating Bombers to Expendable Missiles Over Thirty Years

An Initial Look

by Thomas Hamilton

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Project AIR FORCE (PAF) developed preliminary life cycle costs estimates for a new penetrating bomber, including the cost per day of fighting one or more conflicts against adversaries that possess even moderate air defenses. PAF also developed preliminary cost estimates for cruise missiles launched from standoff distances by non-stealthy platforms. Procurement costs for the cruise missile launch platforms were not included and PAF assumed that cruise missiles do not require more ISR support than bombers. The findings show that penetrating stealth bombers cost less than expendable missiles for similar missions. The paper also identifies other negative aspects of relying on expendable missile options.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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