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Need For The B-2 Bomber
AUTHOR Major Lynn M. Harris, USAF
CSC 1991
SUBJECT AREA - Aviation
                         EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TITLE:  NEED FOR THE B-2 BOMBER
Introduction:  The B-2 should be the most effective means of
maintaining the contributions of the United States bomber
force for the long term.
B-2's Contribution To U.S. National Security:  The B-2 is an
intercontinental bomber that employs stealth technology.  Its
primary mission will be to deter a nuclear attack by
providing the bomber leg of our strategic Triad with the
capability to penetrate Soviet air defenses.
The Threat:  Since 1965, the Soviets have invested over $400
billion to create a formidable integrated air defense system.
By the mid-1990s, the Soviet homeland defense force will
consist primarily of look-down shoot-down systems and new
surface-to-air missile systems continue to replace older
ones.  This threat extends beyond the Soviet Union to other
areas such as the Persian Gulf and the Pacific, where United
States forces might be called upon to operate.
Stealth Technologies Reduce The B-2's Signature:  "Stealth"
is a popular name for a group of technologies more precisely
termed "low observables".   Stealth not only protects an
aircraft (defense) , but greatly enhances the aircraft's
likelihood of prosecuting a successful strike (offense).
Stealth Technology Is Proven In Southwest Asia:  The success
of the F-117A stealth fighter in the Persian Gulf war
demonstrates the importance of continuing the B-2 stealth
bomber program, a system almost canceled by Congress last
year.
B-52 Nor B-1 Are Viable Long Term Alternatives:  The B-52 is
already so constrained by advances in air defense technology
that it is losing its viability as a penetrating bomber.
Also, the B-1 will be increasingly constrained by the
evolving air defense threat environment.
Cost:  Because the B-2 has drawn such critical attention and
comment, cost has emerged as one of the most important issues
in determining whether or not the B-2 Program goes forward.
Counting Rule In Strategic Arms Reduction Talks:  In the
ongoing Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), the United
States and the Soviet Union have agreed to count bombers as
the equivalent of one nuclear warhead.
Conclusion:  The most effective method of maintaining the
viability of the bomber force is to procure the B-2.
                THE NEED FOR THE B-2 BOMBER
                                OUTLINE
Thesis Statement.  The B-2 is the most effective means of
maintaining the contributions of the United States  bomber
force for the long term.
I.    B-2's contribution to U.S. security
      A.   B-2 employs stealth technology
      B.   Nuclear deterrence must remain paramount
II.   The  threat
      A.   The Soviets have invested heavily in air defense
      B.   The threat extends beyond the Soviet Union
III.  Stealth technologies reduce the B-2's signature
      A.   More precisely known as "low observables"
      B.   Provides defensive and offensive capabilities
IV.   Stealth technology is proven in Southwest Asia
V.    Neither the B-52 nor B-1 are viable alternatives
      A.   Improved Soviet air defense system
      B.   B-2 negates the Soviet investment in air defense
VI.   Cost
      B.   One of the most important issues
      C.   Costs are expressed in differing ways
VII.  Counting rule in Strategic Arms Reduction Talks
VIII.Conclusion
      A.   The U.S. should procure the B-2
      B.   Advantages overcome the disadvantages
                NEED FOR THE B-2 BOMBER
     The United States Air Force's commitment to the B-2
bomber is rooted in the historical experience of long-range
bomber development and operations, the bomber's indispensable
role in supporting nuclear deterrence, and the unique
flexibility that makes it a particularly effective weapon for
conventional operations and the projection of U.S. power.
Understanding the flexibility of long-range bombers,
in both nuclear and conventional operations, is key to
understanding their utility in supporting U.S. national
security objectives across the spectrum of potential
conflict.  The rapid changes in the global security
environment have added unprecedented uncertainty to our
security planning and have increased the importance of
flexibility and adaptability when developing weapon systems.
The B-2 should be the most effective means of maintaining the
contributions of the United States' bomber force for the long
term.
        B-2's Contribution To U.S. National Security
     The B-2 is an intercontinental bomber that employs
stealth technology.   Its primary mission will be to deter a
nuclear attack by providing the bomber leg of our strategic
Triad with the capability to penetrate Soviet air defenses.
(7:6)
      The maintenance of a stable, deterring nuclear balance
vis-a-vis the Soviet Union must remain paramount. (8:101)
Only Soviet nuclear forces today have the capability to
destroy our nation and the Soviets continue to modernize.
Although Soviet forces are likely to be reshaped to meet arms
control constraints, their weapons will continue to improve
in capabilities.   Nuclear power is the Soviet's undisputed
claim to superpower status. (7: 14)   For the foreseeable
future, the Soviets will retain the capability to deliver
thousands of nuclear warheads against our nation.   With
uncertainty about the future course of the Soviet Union, the
United States must continue to maintain its strategic nuclear
capability.
      The bomber enhances the stability of the nuclear
balance. (8:102)   Its high survivability promises any
aggressor that an attack will be met with devastating
retaliation, while its slow speed compared to ballistic
missiles means that the bomber does not pose a credible first
strike capability.   Because it can be generated, dispersed,
launched under positive control, and then recalled or
redirected, the bomber also provides the U.S. a highly
flexible means of sending a variety of unmistakable messages
to an adversary to help defuse and stabilize crises.   The
bomber's flexibility makes it the only element of the Triad
that makes key contributions in both conventional and nuclear
roles.
      In nuclear operations, the penetrating bomber provides
the best combination of accuracy and weapon yield compared to
any current or projected Triad system. (8:105)   The bomber
crews  capabilities to assess whether sites have useful
targets present and whether high priority locations targeted
by more than one weapon require a follow-up attack enhances
efficiencies.   According to General John T. Chain, Commander-
in-Chief Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC), "the B-2's unique
capabilities will increase our ability to hold at risk a wide
range of Soviet offensive forces on an enduring basis."
(10:23)   In essence, the penetrating bomber can hold more
targets at risk than the actual number of weapons carried.
The penetrating bomber's complementary relationship with
cruise missile carriers also enhances the effectiveness of
the air breathing force as a whole.
     The bomber's unique flexibility in projecting
conventional power has become even more vital in these times
of instability, uncertainty, and rapid change.   The long-
range bomber employing conventional weapons can deter,
deliver a tailored response, or punch with devastating power
if required against any location on the planet in a wide
variety of roles.   The bomber is one of the nation's premier
power projection assets which contributes significantly to
U.S. security.
                                The Threat
     The B-2 bomber has resulted from a conscious attempt by
three successive administrations, representing both political
parties, to ensure that the bomber leg of the Triad remains a
viable deterrent in the face of expanding ground-to-air and
air-to-air threats.
     Since 1965, the Soviets have invested over $400 billion
to create a formidable integrated air defense system.   It
numbers 10,000 radars, more than 8,000 surface-to-air missile
(SAM) launchers, over 3,000 airborne interceptors and
fighters, and growing numbers of tankers and airborne warning
and control aircraft.   By the mid-1990s, the Soviet homeland
defense force will consist primarily of look-down shoot-down
systems, such as the MiG-31 Foxhound and the SU-27 Flanker,
that is, aircraft capable of detecting and engaging aircraft
flying at low levels.   New SAMs continue to replace older
ones, giving the Soviets potential coverage from sea level to
the fringes of the atmosphere against current United States
systems.   Just the Soviet yearly average production of
SAMs during the Gorbachev era, excluding man-portable SAMs,
is staggering:   16,000 per year since 1986. (1)
     This threat also extends beyond the Soviet Union to
other areas such as the Persian Gulf and the Pacific, where
United Sates forces might be called upon to operate.  The
conflicts in these areas are likely to be low or mid-
intensity struggles, but should not be confused with low or
mid-level technology.  Many of these nations possess
competent and well-equipped military forces with increasingly
sophisticated air defense systems.
     Traditionally, the major nations such as the Soviet
Union, United States, France, Great Britain, and, more
recently, the People's Republic of China, have exported
weaponery at best only slightly less sophisticated than that
fielded by their own military forces to Third World nations.
During 1960 to 1988, for example, the Soviet Union delivered
over 32,000 SAMs, exclusive of man-portable systems and
associated equipment to nations in the Americas, Asia,
Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. (1)  We should expect
such exports to increase as the Soviets seek additional hard
currency to bolster their faltering economy.  Many of these
developing nations have also produced quite sophisticated
weapons of their own.
     Modern fighter aircraft are also increasing in number
and capability throughout the world.  Even when excluding the
United States, the Soviet Union, China, and the nations of
Western and Eastern Europe, a count reveals over 9000
tactical fighters deployed around the world.   The bulk of
these fighters are from previous generations, but many have
been upgraded with new avionics, radars, and weapons.   Many
nations, responding to regional tensions and threats, are
modernizing with the latest generation equipment.   MiG-29s,
for example, are currently found in Third World nations such
as Cuba, India, Iraq, North korea, and Syria. (1)
         Stealth Technologies Reduce The B-2's Signature
      "Stealth" is a popular name for a group of technologies
more precisely termed "low observables."  They involve
efforts to actively reduce the observable "signatures" of an
aircraft in the electromagnetic, optical, thermal, and
acoustic environments.   The term stealth, however, has come
to be associated primarily with radar cross-section (RCS)
reduction.   First applied in rudimentary fashion to the
Lockheed SR-71 stratigic reconnaissance aircraft, "stealth"
has grown steadily more sophisticated through the years.   Its
origins date to the early years of the Second World War, when
British radar technicians first examined the potential of
"radar camouflaging" aircraft to evade detection.
Subsequently, German engineers applied promising radar-
absorbent coatings to submarine snorkel breathing tubes so
that Allied search radars could not detect them.   Stealth as
a concept is nearly a half century old.   But it was not until
the emergence of the Lockheed F-117 fighter that aerospace
technology succeeded in creating a military aircraft that had
a truly profound reduction in RCS, and, hence, in radar
"signature."(2)
      Stealth not only protects an aircraft (defense), but
greatly enhances the aircraft's likelihood of prosecuting a
successful strike (offense).   It enables the attacker to slip
in around the most critical defenses of an opponent, and get
so close to a target before possibly finally being detected
that there is little chance of thwarting the attack.   It
reduces the effective range of an adversary's defenses to the
point where they are essentially nullified.   Stealth thus
provides a revolutionary force-multiplying combat leverage.
      It must be stressed that stealth does not render an
aircraft "invisible," nor is it intended that it do so.
Rather, by a variety of means to include configuration
shaping, coating, absorbers, and structural materials, the
probing effectiveness of radar and other sensors can be
greatly reduced.
         Stealth Technology Is Proven In Southwest Asia
      The Persian Gulf war underscores a continued reliance on
high-technology weapons.   The success of the F-117A stealth
fighter also demonstrates the importance of continuing the
B-2 stealth bomber program, a system almost cancelled by
Congress last year.   Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense,
reinforced this belief:
      If there is one lesson learned out of the gulf
      conflict, it is the value of stealth.   In the
      first hours of conflict, 40 percent of all bomb-
      ing missions were flown by the F-117A stealth
      fighter-bombers, which constitute 5 percent of
      the Air Force fleet.   We simply could not have
      done what we have done as effectively and as
      efficiently and as low a cost to life, both ours
      and the enemy's, if we had not had that stealth
      capability.   Criticism of Pentagon weapon
      systems as being either too technologically
      sophisticated to perform well in actual combat
      or not suitable for regional threats, have
      proved wrong.   Technology is key to keeping
      casualties low.   There is a direct link to the
      number of lives we lose in combat and how much
      money we spend before the war starts on our
      capabilities and the quality of the equipment. (6)
         B-52  Nor B-1 Are Viable Lone lerm Alternatives.
      Over the years, the proliferation of improved Soviet air
defenses have steadily eroded our capability to accomplish
penetrating bomber objectives. (10:24)   The United States'
future bomber force must be capable of operating in the face
of highly sophisticated air defense systems in both nuclear
and conventional operations.   The B-52 is already so
constrained by advances in air defense technology that it is
losing its viability as a penetrating bomber against
sophisticated defenses.   The B-1, whose design dates to the
mid-1960's, will continue as a useful system for years to
come.   However, it too will be increasingly constrained by
the evolving air defense threat environment.   General Chain,
CINCSAC, said:
      69 B-52G bombers were removed from the strategic
      arsenal in 1988 because they could no longer
      penetrate Soviet air defenses. .. By 1998, the 96
      B-52Hs will not be able to penetrate the Soviet
Union either..., the B-1B will be limited to the
      less-defended areas against which the B-52H would
      fly today.  Only the B-2 would be capable against
      heavy Soviet air defenses. (5:24)
      In essence, the B-2 negates the tremendous investment
the Soviets have made over the past decade to modernize their
air defenses. (10:25)  The B-2 is envisioned as the
cornerstone of the bomber force.  A failure to build the B-2
would begin the atrophy of the strategic bomber fleet, which
would mean eventual disintegration of the balanced Triad
concept.  The B-2 should be procured to keep the unique and
flexible contributions of the penetrating manned bomber
available to support U.S. national security across the
spectrum of potential conflict.
                                        Cost
      The B-2 is an expensive weapon system, but certainly not
the most expensive weapon system under consideration.  The
original Department of Defense (DoD) plan was to procure 132
B-2s through fiscal year 1997 at a total program cost of
$75.4 billion.  However, according to Secretary of Defense
Cheney, the changing face of Europe and promising trends in
the Soviet Union allow the United States to reduce the total
B-2 purchase without excessive risk.  Secretary Cheney now
proposes the Air Force procure a total of 75 B-2s at an
estimated total cost of 61.1 billion.  This will be
sufficient to deploy two aircraft wings. (7:6)
    The preceding pages have provided an illustration of
the B-2's potential contribution to U.S. national security,
but because it has drawn such critical attention and comment,
cost has emerged as one of the most important issues in
determining whether or not the B-2 Program goes forward.
Currently, on a cost-to-complete basis for the planned 75
aircraft force, the program is only the seventh largest
compared to other ongoing DoD programs.  On a per unit basis
B-2 costs are comparable with other systems. (11:173)  For
example, in a "flyaway" or "sailaway" basis, the cost to
build a weapon system after the expenditure of research and
development funds, the revolutionary B-2, for a buy of 75
aircraft, cost about the same as a naval frigate, of which
almost 100 are currently in service. (11:175)  These systems
have differing capabilities and uses.  The B-2, for example,
would be of limited utility for anti-submarine operations,
just as a frigate could not deliver massive quantities of
ordinance thousands of miles away.  Each system's value must
be judged on the basis of its contribution to U.S. national
security, not just cost.
      Aircraft costs are expressed in differing ways.
Acquisition or program cost includes money spent on research
and development, the cost to build the aircraft, the
procurement of initial spares and support equipment,
technical orders, and initial training.  Flyaway cost is the
cost to manufacture the aircraft and provide other associated
items, such as quality assurance, government-supplied
equipment, and warranties.
      In addition, a variety of different dollar values are
used in these categories.   Base year dollars reflect cost
with inflation removed in constant year dollars, typically
the year in which the program started.   Current year dollars
show cost in today's dollars.   Then year dollars show weapon
system cost based on the years when funds were actually
spent.   The cost of programs procured in future years are
increased by projected inflation rates.   The latter are
normally the highest of these estimates.(9)   For example, if
inflation rates are projected to run at 4 percent annually,
compounded over 20 years, which is not an unusually long
development and deployment period for major weapon systems,
will more than double any price or cost expressed in then
year dollars.   Using these criteria, the following table
illsutrates the cost of each B-2 based on the current 75
aircraft buy and the previously planned 132 aircraft buy:
Click here to view image
      Critics of the B-2 tend to focus on program unit cost in
then year dollars.  But concentrating on unit program cost
fails to consider the value of the revolutionary advancements
in new technologies, aerodynamics, three dimentional design
and development, highly automated manufacturing processes,
and large composite structural materials, to name a few.
Many of the advancements in this partial list will benefit
the United States' industrial manufacturing sector for many
years to come.   In the future no U.S. military or civilian
aircraft will be designed without reference to the
technologies, manfacturing processes, design capabilities,
and other advancements that were pioneered on the B-2.
Research and development money spent on the B-2 has expanded
the United States' significant lead not only in stealth
technology, but in aerospace technology.
      Once development ends, program cost is primarily of
historic interest.   This is particularly true in the case of
the B-2.   Since more than 40 percent of the total program
cost has already been expended, making decisions on the
basis of total program cost is of limited value. (9)   An
analogy is found in manufacturing.   Compare the current
status of the B-2 with the design and production of a new
product.   In the case of the B-2, we have conducted initial
research and development, initiated and completed design
work, created the required tooling to produce the machines,
conducted extensive testing, and have produced test articles
which are proving highly successful.   We are on the verge of
production.   In other words, all that is left to do is to
capitalize on this investment and produce the aircraft.   Now
is the time to reap the benefits of these years of research,
development, and progress in technology.   We must focus on
what is left to be spent, not what has been spent, to
capitalize on this investment.
         Counting Rule In Strategic Arms Reduction Talks
      The bomber's attributes have led both the United States
and the Soviet Union to regard it as the most stabilizing
element of modern strategic forces.   In the ongoing Strategic
Arms Reduction Talks (START), the United States and the
Soviet Union have agreed to count bombers as the equivalent
of one nuclear warhead.   They are trying to cap each other's
nuclear arsenal at 6,000 warheads and their greatest emphasis
is on limiting the number of ballistic and cruise missiles.
(4: 18)
      The framework of 6,000 strategic warheads for each
superpower comprises 4,900 ballistic missile warheads and
1,100 bomber weapons.   Air-launch cruise missiles (ALCMs)
would be counted individually within the bomber subceiling,
but an aircraft carrying gravity weapons and Short Range
Attack Missiles (SRAMs), typically about 20, would be
considered a single weapon. (5:24)
      Different accountability rules are applied in the START
negotiations to the various types of bombers.   Bombers are
configured in three different ways for nuclear operations.
(1) a pentrating bomber enters enemy airspace to deliver
gravity bombs and SRAMs;  (2) a "shoot/penetrate" bomber first
fires ALCMs and then enters enemy airspace to deliver other
weapons;  (3) a "stand-off" bomber is only equiped with cruise
missiles which launches these weapons from outside enemy
airspace, but does not penetrate.
      Under the current U.S. government position, each U.S.
ALCM-equipped bomber, configured for either stand-off or
shoot/penetrate missions, would count as ten warheads.
Even though, for example, each ALCM-capable B-52 can carry a
maximum of 20 cruise missiles.   Penetrating bombers count as
only one warhead, regardless of the number of individual
devices carried on board.   For example, under the proposed
START guidelines, a single Trident submarine with 192
warheads counts as more accountable warheads than the entire
projected force of B-1s and B-2s, which will carry over 2500
nuclear warheads. (3:50)
      The U.S. should continue to rely heavily upon the bomber
force to cover critical targets.   Only the penetrating bomber
provides the leverage in a START-constrained world to meet
future target coverage requirements while simultaneously
increasing the stability of the nuclear balance.   Even if
future arms control agreements reduce the counting rule
advantage of the penetrating bomber, a pure cruise missile
force would still not provide the same capability as a mixed
force.   Reliance solely on cruise missiles would create a
less flexible, less capable, and more vulnerable force.
                                Conclusion
      The stealth B-2 should become the backbone of the bomber
fleet and thus provide U.S. national security with the
stabilizing, deterring, and flexible capabilities of bombers
for the long term.   The bomber, and the survivable
penetrating bomber in particular, is a flexible weapon that
can be adapted to meet the changing needs of U.S. national
security policy.  The most effective method of maintaining
the viability of the bomber force is to procure the B-2.  The
Air Force's plan for the 1990's, capitalizes upon the
inherent characteristics of airpower:  speed, range,
flexibility, precision, and lethality.  The B-2 in many ways
epotomizes airpower's inherent attributes of providing true
global reach and deterring global power.
                                 Bibliography
1.    Air Force Chief of Staff Briefing Entitled:  The B-2 In
         Perspective (Undated)
2.   Atkinson, Rick  The Story Behind the B-2 Bomber.   The
         Washington Post, 8 October 1989.
3.   Aviation Week & Space Technology  Opposition to B-2
         Threatens Viability of Strategic Triad.   19 March
         1990.
4.    Aviation Week & Space Technology  The B-2 and START.  14
         December 1987.
5.    Bond, David F.    Congressional Debate on B-2 Turns to Arms
         Control Impact.   Aviation Week & Space Technology, 31
         July 1989.
6.   Cheney, Richard  Statement to the House and Senate Armed
         Services Committees, 26 April  1990.
7.    Powell, Colin L. General (USA)  Enduring Realities,
         Enduring Defense Needs.   Defense 20, September/October
         1990.
8.   Rice, Donald, Secretary of the Air Force, The Manned
         Bomber and Strategic Deterence.   International
         Security, Summer 1990.
9.   Secretary of Defense's Major Aircraft Review,
         (Washington, D.C.:  Department of Defense, October
         1990.
10.  Singleton, Tom Lt Col (USAF), Johnson, Ray Capt (USAF)
         The B-2 -Aother Perspective.   Combat Crew, September
         1990.
11.  U.S. Air Force Cost and Planning Factors   (Washington,
         D.C.:  Headquarters United States Air Force, October
         1989).



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