Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

Crisis Stability and Long-Range Strike: A Comparative Analysis of Fighters, Bombers, and Missiles

Excerpt

The U.S. Air Force recently faced a decision milestone on whether to continue research and development for a new-generation penetrating bomber that would be a follow-on to the B-2 Spirit. To inform this decision, it asked RAND Project AIR FORCE several questions, one of which was whether penetrating bombers would be important for maintaining stability should the United States find itself in a confrontation with a nuclear-armed state.

To answer this question, the author developed an analytical framework for measuring and comparing the alternative strike systems that could contribute to crisis management and crisis stability. RAND researchers applied this framework to gather and analyze the necessary data, and the lead researcher briefed Air Force leaders on the findings. The analysis indicated that long-range strike assets play an important role in crisis management. More importantly, penetrating bombers have attributes needed for stabilizing international crises in degrees not provided by other strike assets.

While the findings of this “quick-turn” analysis were informative, they were preliminary and more work remained to be done. This report presents the results of that follow-on work. To validate the attributes used in the preliminary analysis, this report explores the nature of international crises, the principles of crisis management, and the ways in which military force structure affects crisis stability. It then refines the attribute analysis previously done and corroborates its findings in an examination of 48 international crises that have occurred since World War II.

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