It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
You don't know that to a certainty. It's a long time until the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) will enter service and that program is highly classified. We'll have to wait and see what the aircraft ends up as but I think there is a strong possibility that it will be optionally manned by the time it enters service if it isn't cancelled.
Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by JimTSpock
No, there will be manned aircraft after the F-35.
However, despite strong support from senior leaders at the Pentagon, it is unclear if the LRS programme will survive a "sequestration" budget-cutting measure, which will come into effect on 2 January. If Congress and the president are unable to find a solution, another $500 billion will be cut from the US defence budget in the next 10 years. If that happens, "all bets are off", says Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. With an aircraft the size of a strategic bomber, there is little cost difference between a purely manned and an optionally manned aircraft, says Gunzinger: "For large combat aircraft, it is not much of a factor at all."
If the USAF continually changes or adds ever more elaborate requirements, the LRS-B could suffer the same fate as previous USAF bomber projects such as the B-2 or the ill-fated Next Generation Bomber (NGB), which was cancelled in 2009.
Simply removing the pilot from an aircraft or introducing incremental improvements in signature and range does not constitute a generational leap in capability. These improvements are already being looked at for our 5th generation fighters.
Greatly increased speed, longer range, extended loiter times, multi-spectral stealth, ubiquitous situation awareness, and self-healing structures and systems are some of the possible technologies we envision for the next generation of fighter aircraft. Next generation fighter capabilities will be driven by game changing technological breakthroughs in the areas of propulsion, materials, power generation, sensors, and weapons that are yet to be fully imagined.
Therefore, the announced decision to make LRS-B optionally manned represents a well-considered decision for the nation, providing it with maximum operational flexibility at acceptable cost, investing wisely in future capability, and taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to significantly expand key unmanned technologies and autonomous capabilities without holding the program, or mission need, at risk to them.