US Bomber Force: Sized to Sustain an Asymmetric Advantage for America

The number of long-range strike (LRS) aircraft in the US Air Force inventory has dwindled from thousands in the 1950s and 1960s to fewer than 100 combat-coded B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s in service today. These reductions were driven by changes in the strategic environment, shifts in operations, technological developments, and resource constraints. Post-Cold War analysis consistently validates the need for USAF to maintain a bomber force of 150 to 200 combat coded aircraft. This report will explain these trends and provides rationale for why the US should acquire more than the Air Force’s stated buy of 100 LRS Platforms.

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