Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), criticized today's decision by the Obama Administration to not pursue the development of the Next Generation Bomber.

"I am puzzled by this decision by President Obama. Only three months ago, Secretary Gates wrote in the Foreign Affairs journal that the United States' ability to strike from over the horizon will be at a premium in future conflicts and `will require shifts from short-range to longer-range systems, such as the next-generation bomber,'" said Thune.

"I'm further perplexed by Secretary Gates' statement that there must be a `better understanding of the need, the requirement, and the technology' when this decision was fully vetted in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which declared the need for a next generation bomber to be developed by 2018. Over the past few weeks, I have been able to question several combatant commanders, who have stated the importance of the development of a next-generation bomber."

During their testimony before the SASC. Admiral Timothy Keating, the head of Pacific Command, stated that any capability the country can provide to engage in penetrating advanced air defenses, including the Next Generation Bomber, "is a capability we would support."

Additionally, Air Force General Chilton, commander of Strategic Command, which is responsible for long range strike missions, stated before the SASC that "as an advocate for the regional Combatant Commanders.we would advocate in support of [the Next Generation Bomber]."

Finally, Joint Forces Command head Gen. Mattis told the SASC last month that "We have got to be able to reassure our friends and checkmate our enemies and [continuing the Air Force's plans to field a next-generation bomber by 2018] is one of the ways in which we do so."

"I fundamentally disagree with President Obama's decision regarding the next-generation bomber, largely for the reasons that Secretary Gates himself stated only three months ago," Thune continued. "With nearly half of our bomber inventory pre-dating the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's very important that we keep on track to develop a new bomber by 2018. Fortunately, we in Congress have the final say on what programs will be funded. That is why I will fight to retain the next-generation bomber in the final funding decisions for the Defense Department made by Congress. America cannot afford to have the Department of Defense and vital military tools like the next generation bomber be raided to fund the lavish spending taking place in Washington."

Senator Thune serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the ranking member of the AirLand Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over, among other things, Air Force roles and missions.