Released: Mar 24, 1998
The Panel to Review Long-Range Air Power, an independent group, was mandated by the 1998 Defense Appropriations Act. It evaluated the adequacy of current planning for U.S. long-range air power and the requirement for continued low-rate production of the B-2 stealth bomber.
Specifically, the panel chaired by former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Welch was supposed to "recommend whether additional funds for the B-2 should be used for continued low-rate production of the B-2 or for upgrades to improve its deployability, survivability and maintainability."
Concluding its review of the nation's bomber force requirements this week and has provided its recommendations to the White House and Congress. The panel was charged to "recommend whether additional funds for the B-2 should be used for continued low-rate production of the B-2 or for upgrades to improve its deployability, survivability, and maintainability."
The panel recommended that all of the $331 million appropriated in fiscal 1998 be used for the baseline B-2 program and for upgrades to improve the 21 existing B-2 stealth bombers.
The panel also recommended that the department better exploit the potential of the current B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber force through more operational attention and more investment in support and upgrades. They said the department should also develop a plan to sustain the bomber force for the longer term.
The panel received briefings and held discussions with representatives of the principal organizations within DOD and industry associated with long-range air power. The panel investigated a wide variety of issues including the advantages and limitations of long-range air power, the value of stealth, advances in counter stealth technology, force tradeoffs, plans for new precision guided munitions, and DOD budget forecasts.
Besides Welch, the panel included Samuel Adcock, Daimler Benz Corp.; Sen. James Exon; John Foster, TRW Inc.; Fred Frostic, Booz Allen-Hamilton, Inc.; former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak; Walter Morrow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory; Donald Rice, former secretary of the Air Force; and retired Air Force Gen. Robert Rutherford.
* B-1B Lancer
* B-52 Stratofortress
* B-2 Spirit
* Department of Defense
* Gen. Merrill McPeak
* U.S. Congress