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Zap the B-2 stealth bomber


EVEN LITTLE schoolchildren know that turkeys can't fly. New disclosures about the B-2 Stealth bomber have added weight to all the good arguments against this turkey.

The bat-winged bomber already is obsolete. It was designed for a different world -- one in which the Soviet Union was the United States' fearsome adversary. The long-range strategic missions that the B-2 was designed to fly now seem remote.

Now there is more disturbing news about the plane's capabilities. The technology that is supposed to make it undetectable by radar -- its main selling point -- doesn't work. Who needs a Stealth that's not stealthy? A major new missile system being developed for the B-2 also has malfunctioned. It is the only missile the B-2 could use with accuracy in non-nuclear combat. In the post-Cold War era, who needs a plane you can't use in a conventional conflict? No one, especially not at $865 million a plane.

The House of Representatives already has shown the way out of this morass. It has decided to stop the B-2 at the 15 planes already ordered. [Last] week, the Senate debated an appropriations measure that includes $3.2 billion to fund four more B-2s in 1992, but would require a second vote for the money to be spent. That's just postponing the day of reckoning.

It now seems likely that this ill-fated old bird will die eventually. Time to put it out of its misery -- before another dime is spent to keep it alive.

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