(From the National Interest)
By Dave Majumdar
While Northrop Grumman’s shadowy B-21 stealth bomber will be the most capable penetrating strike aircraft ever developed, even the celebrated new warplane won’t be able to guarantee access into the most heavily defended airspace around the globe. That’s why the Pentagon is insisting that it needs to develop the Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) nuclear-tipped cruise missile to assure America’s nuclear deterrent against Russia and China.
“I think it’s absolutely critical that we have an LRSO, not only for the new B-21 but also for the B-2 and B-52. And that is largely because of the ever increasinganti-access/area-denial that we are facing,” Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, told the House Armed Services Committee’sstrategic forces subcommittee on March 2. “For survivability, we need to have a stand-off capability. Period. Dot.”
Other Pentagon officials mirrored Rand’s perspective. Robert Scher, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities—who was testifying alongside Rand—said that both a penetrating B-21 stealth bomber and LRSO cruise missile are needed to ensure America’s nuclear deterrent. The combination of the bomber and cruise missile would afford the White House options in the event of war without mandating that a manned strike aircraft with an aircrew onboard overflies enemy airspace to drop a nuclear gravity bomb, Scher said. Read more