As a former crew member on B-1B bombers, I am disappointed by the opinion-page column "Past Failures Should Sound Alarms on 'Stealth' Funding," Sept. 6, which warns against funding the B-2 because of past problems with the B-1B. Unfortunately, the author dismisses the primary reason the B-1B did not participate in Desert Storm. Instead, he cites a problem with the fuse of a particular bomb and attempts to label this a B-1B problem. This would have been a problem for any aircraft carrying this particular weapon. The B-1B was still capable of carrying other types of munitions. The author also suggests a fan blade problem encountered in late December is the culprit. This still does not explain why the B-1B was not deployed with other aircraft prior to December. The reason is quite simple: As was clearly stated, the B-1B was neither requested nor required by the theater commander. A decision was made to retain the B-1B for its primary role of strategic nuclear deterrence. I am not aware of any rule that requires the participation of every piece of military hardware we own. Follo wing this logic, the author should also address the nonparticipation of ICBMs, amphibious landing craft, and a host of other military capabilities. After thousands of flight hours in both B-52 and B-1B bombers, I am still impressed with the speed, maneuverability, and bombing precision of the B-1B. Even with the alleged problems, many of which have been addressed, the B-1B is still the world's most capable long-range bomber. Frederick R. Strain, Washington Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
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