The Long Range Strike Bomber program (LRS-B) is a development and acquisition program to develop a long-range strategic bomber for the United States Air Force, intended to be a heavy-payload stealth aircraft capable of delivering thermonuclear weapons. Initial capability is planned for the mid-2020s. A request for proposal to develop the aircraft was issued in July 2014. The Air Force plans to purchase 80–100 LRS-B aircraft at a cost of $550 million each (2010 dollars). A development contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman for its B-21 Raider in October 2015.
On 19 May 2009, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said that the USAF’s focus in the 2010 budget was on “Long-range strike, not next-generation bomber” and will push for this in the Quadrennial Defense Review. In June 2009, the two teams working on next-generation bomber proposals were told to “close up shop”. On 16 September 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates endorsed the concept of a new bomber but insisted that it must be affordable, stating: “What we must not do is repeat what happened with our last manned bomber. By the time the research, development, and requirements processes ran their course, the aircraft, despite its great capability, turned out to be so expensive – $2 billion each in the case of the B-2 Spirit—that less than one-sixth of the planned fleet of 132 was ever built.” On 5 October 2009, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Ashton Carter said that the DoD was still deciding if the USAF needed a new bomber and that, if approved, the aircraft would need to handle reconnaissance as well as strike missions. In July 2010, Carter said he intended to “make affordability a requirement” for the next-generation intelligence and strike platform.
On 11 December 2009, Gates said that the QDR had shown the need for both manned and unmanned long range strike and that the 2011 budget would likely include funding for the future bomber. The USAF plans for the new bomber to be multi-role with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. As a bomber, the LRS-B will be under Air Force Global Strike Command, while ISR assets are managed by Air Combat Command’s 25th Air Force.
In 2010, Andrew Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, questioned a reliance on short range aircraft like the F-35 to manage China in a future conflict and promoted reducing the F-35 buy in favor of a longer range platform like the Next-Generation Bomber; then-United States Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne had rejected this plan in 2007. During debate on the New START treaty in December 2010, several senators raised the LRS-B as a reason to oppose or delay ratification. ocs system