Nah, no worries b. We're all here to learn . Air superiority is not the only prerequisite for a bombing mission. You are disregarding, with deleterious effect, the consequences of ground-based command-and-control centres and surface-to-air batteries. Where these are covered by radars with overlapping airspace coverage, undetected intrusion by conventional aircraft with large exposed RCS's is virtually impossible. On the other hand, stealth aircraft, with detection vulnerabilities only at short ranges from ground-based radars, can exploit substantial gaps in radar coverage, if the appropriate flight path minimizing radial speed and exposing the lowest RCS aspects of the aircraft to the enemy radar is implemented. None but the FB-22 is on the backburner. The FB-22 is 'paused' only because of a constraint in funds as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and in anticipation of the interim 2018 fighter. Again, however there are two conflicting hypotheses to this event, and in the event that it is scrapped, it will at the very least, serve as a technological base for the stop-gap fighter. Read my previous post for further clarification. We enter the realm of speculation here. You made the following statement to corroborate your position that bombers were obsolete in modern warfare: "A future stealth bomber is not in the charts right now. Most nations today are trying to build stealthy 5th gen fighters and stealth UCAVs." The evidence confutes that claim. The PAK-DA project may be delayed - it may not. But scrapped, it will in all probability not be. As of late 2007, final technical requirements were already formulated, and the involvement of different design bureaus confirmed. In addition, Russia's fleet of Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers, and its fleet of long-range Tu-22M3 bombers have undergone extensive modernization, a testament to the fact that they are not being viewed as 'approaching obsolescence'- atleast by the Russian military establishment. Furthermore, amid the resumption of intercontinental patrols (including the not-so-occasional violation of NATO airspace), reports in late 2007 confirmed the renewal of serial production of the Tu-160 strategic bomber at Kazan, with an anticipated total force of 30 Tu-160's by 2025-2030. See the following for example: Lenta.ru: Îðóæèå: ÂÂÑ Ðîññèè ñôîðìóëèðîâàëè òðåáîâàíèÿ ê ïåðñïåêòèâíîìó äàëüíåìó áîìáàðäèðîâùèêó It is. But the project began in 2007, and since then major modifications and considerable weight reduction have ensured it completed a successful maiden flight in 2008. I disagree. Stealth technology not only removes the need to defer offensive strike operations against deep, well-protected targets until one establishes air superiority, it also helps create aerial superiority for less survivable platforms. While air superiority remained justifiably at the top of pre-stealth service priorities, the means for obtaining- and temporally maintaining- air superiority have changed considerably. Superior armaments, electronic warfare systems and stealth technology have helped create an aegis of relative invulnerability for a limited time around aircraft in hostile airspace. During Operation Desert Storm for instance, the "42 F-117s (representing 2.5% of USAF in-theater air assets) flew only 2 percent of coalition fixed-wing sorties, yet struck 40 percent of all the "strategic" targets--achieving hits with 80 percent (1,619 hits and 418 misses) of the weapons they released--without losing an aircraft or even being struck by enemy fire". (Figures from: STEALTH, SEA CONTROL, AND AIR SUPERIORITY). Further, many of the F-117 missions were also in direct support of achieving air superiority through the destruction of the enemy's integrated air defenses. The ease with which Israel gained air superiority in the 1967 war against the combined airforces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, through "Shelter-busting" munitions, more easily extensively deployed through the greater ordnances of bomber aircraft, is testament to their worth. From a US perspective, with its doctrine of rapid-paced wars against relatively inferior militaries and proportionately low attrition rates, stealth bombers provide a means by which the order of an air campaign against a forewarned enemy ( air challenge, attempted neutralization of hangared fighters/ air defences ) can effectively be inverted- particularly against countries vis-a-vis which there already exists a pre-established numerical superiority, and also provides a significant early advantage in their far greater ability to cripple industrial and enemy infrastructural installations. Further, to corroborate my claims, and from the source: "Much has been made about the fact that the first strike of Desert Storm's air campaign was directed against Iraqi air-defense radars. AH-64 Apache helicopters armed with Hellfire missiles conducted the attack 21 minutes before H-hour. Implicit in such commentary about that opening blow is the point that these early warning sites had to be taken out before fixed-wing aircraft could penetrate Iraqi airspace without suffering significant losses. At the time of the Apache attack, however, F-117s were well beyond the sites in question, having flown through the air defense system undetected, and were minutes from successfully attacking hardened air defense intercept operations centers and dozens of other critical air defense, leadership, and command and control targets." "...Air superiority was essentially established by daybreak--more by the destruction of the means for massing and controlling Iraqi air assets than by the destruction of aircraft in the air or on the ground. One should note that stealth aircraft directly contributed to establishing air superiority, but not as a prerequisite to their ability to destroy vital target sets such as fixed Scud missile facilities; leadership and command and control nodes; and research, manufacturing, and potential nuclear-storage sites. Had large numbers of nonstealthy aircraft not yet arrived and been standing by to participate (or had not been necessary for the prosecution of a smaller conflict or a limited strike), stealth sorties in support of air superiority could have been deferred until those other aircraft were staged and ready, and until air strikes required the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD). In any event, the establishment of air superiority in Desert Storm was not accomplished by a lengthy and costly process of destroying Iraqi airframes, but by the decapitation and intimidation of the means of controlling them. Air defense radars and ground-based fighter control centers proved to be ideal targets for stealthy attack aircraft armed with PGMs and will continue to be so in future regional conflicts. Therefore, the highly capable stealthy air forces to be composed of F-117s, B-2s, and F-22s,--if fielded in sufficient numbers--will provide new options to establish air superiority extremely early in such conflicts and from great distances." In essence therefore, stealth aircraft in general- and to a greater extent, stealth bombers in particular- enable flexibility in air operations by providing four different 'gambits' in the opening phase of air combat: - The ability to conduct meaningful stealth strikes without air superiority. - The ability to use stealth to establish air superiority. - The 'traditional' gambit, incorporating use of non-stealthy force countermeasures composed of a variety of air assets [SEAD, EW, combat air patrol, and strike]. - Permutations and combinations of the first three. The ability of stealth bombers to create localized air superiority through neutralization of ground-based assets, communication nodes, hangared aircraft, infrastructure and significantly SEAD and radars renders incalculable advantages to an air force enjoying this technological advantage in terms of establishing eventual total air superiority and minimizing losses for its non-stealthy colleagues. Now let me court controversy here and suggest that the reason for the line of thinking which espouses that strategic bombers have become 'obsolete' or are 'approaching obsolescence' is that there has not yet been a quantum leap in terms of doctrinal and policy conceptualization of the advantages of stealth bombers. Thus, while we have the "bomber roadmap", which makes explicit the important conventional role of strategic and long-range bomber aircraft, there does not as yet exist a true doctrinal appreciation- atleast among the defence layman- of the important contribution of stealth bombers like the B-2 in achieving air-superiority. That is certainly a problem. Infact, the B-2 requires specialized climate-controlled hangers to preserve its radar-absorbent material and coatings. Then again, the higher ordnance and significantly greater operational range compensate for the low sortie rate. One reason for the comparatively lower maintenance costs of the F-22 for example, is that it uses far fewer radar absorbent materials than the B-2 or the F-117 Nighthawk. And maintenance time and costs for the latter are continuously being reduced through developments such as these: Stealth technology; B-2 maintenance time cut by spray-on coating. (27-APR-04) Flight International Manufacturing Technology Program Reduces Maintenance Time for the B-2 Bomber Fleet USA’s B-2 Bombers Leading the Way in Contracting for Availability That! The air-to-air role is reserved for combat and multi-role aircraft only. If that were the purview of the bomber, it would no longer be that- a "bomber". The "cost effectiveness" is debatable, and depends primarily on the mission type. That is, I have to say, a somewhat implausible scenario. AAA batteries do not simply "fill the skies with shrapnel" without untold consequences to themselves (the host country). And saturation coverage by enemy fighters patrolling the skies is somewhat inconceivable- particularly since the only nations with inventories large enough to approximate that feat also have the distinction of having very large airspaces. Realistically, gaps through which enemy air coverage can be penetrated always exist, and the astute ACC can, alongwith the aid of excellent intelligence, EW systems, by minimizing radial speed and presenting minimal RCS aspects of the stealth aircraft to enemy radar, predict a relatively secure flight path. That is an extremely small window of opportunity. And the B-2's weapons' bay discharge vulnerability is addressed by operating in a manner that reduces the risk and consequences of temporary acquisition. In addition, the B-2's operational altitude (50,000 ft.) imposes a flight time for defensive weapons that makes it virtually impossible to engage the aircraft during its weapons deployment. The problem encountered with that then ofcourse is the issue of maneuverability. While a cruise missile is "maneuverable" in its own right, equating the maneuverability of a cruise missile and a bomber aircraft is fallacious. The former is designed to evade a stationery object within a restricted flight envelope and predetermined trajectory in X-Y plane; the latter to cope with a far greater degree of hostile target maneuverability in addition to being able to maneuver in three-dimensional, omnidirectional plane with theoretically far more intensive terminal phase correction during engagement. The two are different vectors, representing distinct modes of delivery for different congeries of munitions, and each with their own advantages and detriments. Edit: Just realized Zmey Smirnoff has expounded upon this point nicely. Please See: http://www.defenceforum.in/forum/df...come-obsolete-modern-warfare-4.html#post16124 Indeed, another utility.