Warplanes: August 2, 2002


Advocates of the B-1B bomber fear that the Air Force and Pentagon plan to retire it and sell the planes for scrap. When the B-1B force was cut from 90 to 65, the Air Force insisted that the money saved would all be spent improving the bomber's jammer systems so that it could operate over enemy territory. But now at least half of the money will be used for things not related to the B-1B, and supporters of the Lancer feel this is the first step toward eliminating the plane from service. If the B-1B's jammers are not improved, it would not be able to operate over Russian-built S-300 and S-400 defenses, but would be limited to a stand-off role launching cruise missiles. While the B-1B is faster, the B-52 can do that job cheaper.--Stephen V Cole


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