Title: The Heavy Bomber Industrial Base: A Study of Present and Future Capabilities
Subject: The declining procurement level and reduced quantity of new program starts driven by a dramatically smaller defense budget have generated concern for the continuing viability of the aerospace industrial base to design, develop, and produce heavy bombers. The thesis of this research is that concern for heavy bomber production should not be limited to just maintaining the critical skills and capabilities necessary to produce these aircraft, but rather should increase in scope to examine the practical feasibility of procuring bombers in the future at acceptable costs and within required timelines.
Author(s): James L. Barefield II; Anthony R. Williams (Faculty Advisor)
DTIC Keywords: AEROSPACE INDUSTRY, AIR FORCE PROCUREMENT, AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY, BOMBER AIRCRAFT, DEFENSE INDUSTRY, JET BOMBERS, MILITARY PROCUREMENT, PROCUREMENT
The declining procurement level and reduced quantity of new program starts
driven by a dramatically smaller defense budget have generated concern for the
continuing viability of the defense base. Recent research on the impact of the
aerospace industrial base's downsizing relative to heavy bomber production has
narrowly focused on the loss of technical and theoretical capabilities.
Researchers have adopted this position despite the fact the United States has
repeatedly demonstrated its ingenuity and capacity to design and build weapons
systems exploiting state-of-the-art technology. This research was conducted to
demonstrate that merely assessing the loss of mental and physical capital will
not provide America with a realistic assessment of its future ability to field a
threatening heavy bomber force.
The thesis of this research is that the concern for heavy bomber production should not be limited to just maintaining the critical skills and capabilities necessary to produce these aircraft, but rather should increase in scope to examine the practical feasibility of procuring bombers in the future at acceptable costs and within required timelines. There are numerous reasons indicating that additional heavy bombers may be required at some point within the next ten years. If the present bomber production capability is allowed to drawdown without a comprehensive consideration for future defense needs, tomorrow's inevitable bomber production requirements will severely feel this oversight in terms of money and time. Immediate action to enhance the present B-2 curtailment program, combined with the development of a government/industry industrial strategy comparing B-2 post-production support requirements and capabilities against potential bomber production restart needs, will significantly minimize future costs and schedule impacts if in fact future bomber production is required in the upcoming decade.
The following study focuses on the industrial base's current and future capability to design, develop, and produce heavy bomber aircraft. Chapter 1 reviews the nation's needs for heavy bombers, discusses three reasons which may determine the need for additional bombers in the future, examines the bomber industrial base in terms of the broader aerospace industry, and defines the B-2 bomber's present curtailment status and production activities. Chapter 2 assesses the role of experience in past aircraft production. Chapter 3 examines the industry's ability to reconstitute bomber production in the future by analyzing B-1 bomber restart activities and the lessons learned from this most recent heavy bomber experience. Chapter 4 reviews recent political, military, and industry activity aimed at maintaining the bomber industrial base and analyzes the Department of Defense's Fiscal Year 1995 Heavy Bomber Industrial Base Capabilities Study. Chapter 5 provides conclusions and suggestions to mitigate cost and schedule impacts to future bomber production.
This research draws primarily on historical resources in addition to accomplishing limited new analyses. Research sources included: relative professional studies, topic-oriented periodicals and books, prepared Congressional testimony, electronic media, letters and briefings, and personal interviews with and speeches by subject matter experts.