US Next-Gen B-21 Bomber Likely Obsolete Upon Delivery

(MENAFN- Asia Times) While the US mulls acquiring more of its next-gen B-21 bombers, fast-moving technological advancements could make the type obsolete upon delivery.

This month, The Warzone reported that US Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General David Allvin has hinted that the service is considering purchasing more than the 100 B-21s currently planned.

Allvin stated that the B-21 is the future of the bomber force and that the number of B-21s is expected to reach 100 by the mid-2030s and beyond.

The USAF is exploring options to supplement or replace B-21 production while also planning to fly updated B-52s equipped with the Rapid Dragon palletized munition system as an inexpensive means of creating long-lasting, low-complexity stand-off strike platforms.

It is also considering buying all 100 B-21s despite cost issues, which are coming down after negotiations with Northrup Grumman . However, the threat environment that informed the B-21's design a decade ago has significantly changed.

The B-21 is a member of the Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) family of systems and can be used for future variations or derivatives along with the AGM-181A LRSO stealthy nuclear-armed cruise missile and other advanced systems such as munitions, sensors, electronic warfare packages and communications systems.

However, The Warzone says that acquiring additional B-21s contradicts evolving trends in aircraft procurement and capabilities. The bomber mission is changing due to survivability demands, evolving integrated air defense networks and longer-range and more capable counter-air munitions .

It also states the importance of using cost-effective, quickly designed and readily deployable stand-off systems is increasing on the battlefield. At the same time, the B-21 may be the last new USAF bomber.

While strategic bombers have been the long arm of US airpower during the 20th and early 21st centuries, technological advances may force a rethink of stealth bombers' role in increasingly transparent aerial battlefields.


Asia Times

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