Purpose ‐ The threat environment countries face is a dynamic one, with many emerging technologies. This paper presents unique challenges as countries evaluate which technologies to pursue in support of national security. Rather than addressing a broad range of strategic options, this paper limits its scope to a single type of aircraft. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate a methodology to counter the most likely future threats to a long-range strike aircraft.Design/methodology/approach ‐ To address future threats, the paper examined the most likely course of technology development within the context of various alternative futures. To decompose general threat scenarios into specific risk scenarios, the risk filtering, ranking, and management (RFRM) framework was used. After identifying the most significant risk scenarios, decision tree analysis provided insight into whether or not to pursue a given technology (e.g. electromagnetic pulse hardening, redundant control structures, etc.).Findings ‐ It is found the RFRM and decision tree tools to be very complementary in developing a credible scenario-based decision model that incorporates expected technology development and alternative futures.Practical implications ‐ The paper is not intended to be a technical report on advanced technologies or predict future technologies and the world geopolitical situation. However, the approach explored should serve as a foundation for more detailed analysis that incorporates formal studies, technology demonstrations, and additional research into a coherent decision structure that can be evaluated and adjusted over time.Originality/value ‐ The paper combines the RFRM and decision tree tools to examine concepts from both technology development and alternative futures.