Defense: On with the Manned Bomber

The last Air Force B-52 to roll off the assembly line was completed six years ago. Ever since, the generals have been arguing for a follow-up aircraft to replace the giant bombers by the mid-1970s. Last week they won their case.

What the Air Force wants is dubbed an "Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft" (AMSA). Built more like a rocket than a plane, the new bomber would hit a top speed of Mach 2.5 (1,800 m.p.h.) at high altitude on the way to its target. Then, swooping low to avoid detection by enemy radar, it would slow to Mach 1.2 (790 m.p.h.)...

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