The US Air Force's next-generation strike bomber will be many things. It'll be stealthy, expensive, and wildly powerful, sure, but today's B-2 Spirit is all of those things. Its successor, the so-called Long Range Strike Bomber, will need to do much more than that.
Blame it on the military's obsession with all-things multi mission and modular, but beyond the relatively simple act of sneaking into enemy airspace far away and delivering its ordinance, the LRSB will also serve as an intelligence gatherer and a stealthy alternative to today's E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS command and control aircraft, Defense One reports. And in a bizarre twist, the bomber could even sub-in as a super-stealthy interceptor.
D1's report makes for a fascinating read, especially considering the relatively limited nature of every bomber that's come before. Those single-mission aircraft are a far cry from what's being targeted with the LRSB.
According to Defense One, Uncle Sam is planning on buying 80 to 100 of these new bombers at the staggering cost of $550 million a piece. For comparison's sake, the Air Force only built 21 B-2s, although they were significantly more expensive, at $737 million, according to a quick but not necessarily reliable Wikipedia search. While it hasn't been decided which firm will build the new bomber, it's expected that a decision will be made "soon," and that the contract would likely be awarded to either Northrop Grumman, which built the B-2, or as part of a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.