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Stars and Stripes reports that “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made a final pitch for developing a new Air Force bomber, while questions linger about its affordability.”  

“The Air Force long-range bomber fleet currently consists of 76 B-52 Stratofortesses, 63 B-Lancers and 20 B-2 Spirits, all of which were developed decades ago. Anti-aircraft systems have improved and proliferated since then, and officials and experts expect that trend to continue.”  

“‘As potential adversaries acquire 21st century defense systems … the ability of these Cold War-era bombers to get close enough to their targets to be effective will continue to deteriorate,’ defense analyst Jeremiah Gertlet warned in a Congressional Research Service report last year.”

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