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​Although the Long-Range Strike Bomber will be a critical component of the “family of systems” strike concept, it has the potential to evolve beyond that, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Dean retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula told a Capitol Hill audience Sept. 10. The family of systems conversation tends to reflect some “old think,” reflecting a desire to kluge “stovepiped systems” together, said Deptula, discussing his new study, “Beyond the Bomber.” In the future, a “combat cloud” information network would introduce the notion of ubiquitous sharing of information across all elements of the strike enterprise, an admittedly “lofty and challenging goal,” he acknowledged, but one that takes the family of systems concept “to the next level” and truly realizes the LRS-B’s potential. Deptula said any discussion about the size of the bomber force should remain informed by national security strategy. If the US maintains the current strategy, which states that forces must be globally engaged as well as capable of fighting expeditionary wars when compelled, forces must be shaped to do this, he said. With 10 Air Expeditionary Forces in USAF today, this would necessitate a force closer to 175 bombers (counting training assets and attrition reserve), said Deptula. However, any number should be a figure based on a balance between risk, capability, and goals of a strategy, he added.