It appears the B-2 Spirit will get company in shape of a Chinese counterpart and a Russian counterpart.
This means there might be a comeback for heavy and long-range bombers. The Su-34 was no such thing, and the difference may become important. The U.S.A.F also looks at a new bomber, which is supposedly also meant to become a long-range reconnaissance and generally a powerful sensor platform. I doubt they will pull it off given their existing inventory, but the rumours from China and Russia appear more realistic to me.
New bomber types would be a very interesting development because there's an unlikely yet real history of quite heavy (at least medium) bombers being exported to small powers. India, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Indonesia operated Tu-16, Tu-22 or Tu-22M bombers during the Cold War.
|Egyptian Tu-16 Badgers|
The military utility was questionable without the Soviet's anti-shipping missile and nuclear weapon stocks, but this has definitively changed. A single bomber could ruin a middle-sized countries' powerplant infrastructure (and thus economy) in a single sortie using quite affordable off-the-shelf guided glide bombs.
The proliferation of such a devastating capability might make it necessary for non-NATO small powers to maintain a rather high air force readiness and air policing, a good early warning spy network and/or effective area air defence missiles. The latter could sooner or later bust some airliner on accident.
Such precautions might be provoked in a huge radius, as one such bomber accompanied by a tanker could fly transoceanic missions (it wouldn't need to return, after all).
'We' in the West have become accustomed to a world in which threatening capabilities or non-allied powers are rare. The DF-21D anti-ship missile and even by comparison ridiculous speedboats in the Persian Gulf were able to freak many of 'us' out. Imagine what the prospect of a nightly knock-out blow to your countries' infrastructure dealt by a power thousands of kilometres away would feel. The blow could even be internationally perceived as rather economical than a warlike - kind of the hardware version of a malicious software campaign.
I wonder whether heavy bombers of the 2020's would be exported to small powers, and whether they would provoke great defence, deterrence and diplomatic (alliance- and umbrella-seeking) reactions.