As drones proliferate, bomber's future looks uncertain

05/21/2009 | Politico (Washington, D.C.)

Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the F-35 could be the Air Force's final fighter plane designed for a human pilot, and the battle over drones looms large in decisions regarding the next-generation long-range bomber. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has introduced a bill to mandate the development of both manned and unmanned bombers. "It's a pretty risky proposition to have a nuclear weapon aboard an unmanned platform, so it's a smarter decision to have some of the fleet be manned to handle the nuclear capability of the bomber," a Thune spokesman says.

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