Long-Range Strike Bombers: why they matter

May 22, 2023Gray Bridwell, Vice President, Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs

Editor’s Note:

Exactly 75 years ago, the men and women of our community, convened by the Abilene Chamber and its War Committee, embarked on an effort that would not only stand the test of time, but also change the West Texas landscape forever.

Using their foresight and determination, the group raised the money, assembled the land and committed to the US Government that in exchange for a military installation, our community would ensure the long-term viability and support of that investment.

And we’ve done exactly that. Every day and night for all those years.

Today, our work on behalf of Dyess may look a little different than it did all those years ago, but one thing remains the same – Abilene continues to love and care for our airmen and their families, the mission at Dyess AFB, and is as committed to its future as it is to its past.

This morning, we take a look at just one of the many efforts undertaken by the Chamber’s MAC that brings understanding and support for the base we hold so dearly.

Long-Range Strike Bombers:  why they matter

By Gray Bridwell, Vice President, Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs

The ability to conduct long-range strikes at scale in all threat environments has been a decisive U.S. military advantage for more than 70 years.

The Air Force’s long-range bombers give theater commanders the capability to strike a broad spectrum of enemy targets that would otherwise be inaccessible to U.S. and allied forces.

Today, this advantage is severely diminished. Successive force cuts since the Cold War, combined with the failure to acquire more than a small, “silver bullet” inventory of stealthy bombers, means the Air Force entered 2023 with a fleet of only 141 B-52Hs, B-1Bs, and B-2s—about a third of the size of its 1989 bomber force.

A force this size cannot meet the growing demand for global precision strikes, including operations in contested and highly contested environments, which are now the norm for peer conflicts. The good news is the Air Force will soon field the B-21 Raider, the world’s most advanced stealthy bomber.

The continuing challenge will be to ensure the B-21 program is resourced to rapidly acquire an inventory that meets operational demands. This will require avoiding the same kind of budget driven decisions that eroded nearly all the service’s advanced combat aircraft purchases since the Cold War, as in the case of the B-2, the F-22, and now the F-35A.

The Military Affairs Committee has worked hand in hand with the Air Force looking after the interests of Dyess Air Force Base, and insuring the Dyess Mission, airmen, and families are taken care of for the next one hundred years.


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