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Aug. 2, 2010"The Air Force has about the right structure except for the need to add long range strike—more long range strike," former Defense Secretary William Perry told the House Armed Services Committee July 29.

Perry was highlighting one of the Congressionally chartered Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel’s Air Force-related recommendations, which called for defense policymakers to increase long-range strike capability. This would come in the form of a new deep-strike heavy bomber and associated sensors.

Perry specifically told the HASC members that the review panel thinks the Air Force should move forward with "another deep strike [platform]."

"In my opinion, we have such capability already in the B-2," he explained. "A follow-on to the B-2," he continued, should "have the kind of stealth capabilities that the B-2 has."

Such stealth attributes are a "unique capability that the United States has today and one which will be very important to be incorporated in any new deep strike bomber," said Perry.

But getting to the new bomber platform as part of the overall "urgent need" to modernize large portions of the US military will not be easy, the panel noted.

Indeed, they wrote: "We cannot reverse the decline of shipbuilding, buy enough naval aircraft, recapitalize Army equipment, modernize tactical aircraft (TACAIR), purchase a new aerial tanker, increase our deep-strike capability, and recapitalize the bomber fleet just by saving the $10 billion-$15 billion the [defense] department hopes to save through acquisition reform."

Perry co-chaired the bipartisan review panel with Stephen Hadley, assistant to President George H. Bush for national security affairs. The 18 panel members spent the past six months scrutinizing the findings of the Defense Department's 2010 QDR and coming up with their own observations. Their findings were unanimous.

The general trend of recent decades to replace older systems with fewer units of newer, more-capable systems is dangerous and will not suffice, they stated.

"We are concerned that, beyond a certain point, quality cannot substitute for quantity," they asserted. Instead, meeting the crucial requirements of modernization "will require a substantial and immediate investment that is sustained through the long term."

Although that cost to the nation will be great, the "potential price associated with not recapitalizing" may be "much greater" in the long run, the panel warned. (Panel report; caution, large file.) (Perry-Hadley written testimony)