According to the report from THE DRIVE on June 9th, the first two prototype examples of the advanced B-21 stealth bomber are set to undergo ground testing before their first planned flight next year. South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base, which will be the home to the newest B-21 stealth bombers, is currently in the process of building infrastructure, training ground, and air crews to match it, according to Dr. Bo, a military expert and honored guest of LUDE Media.

The modernization of the U.S. Air Force’s bomber branch is gathering pace to optimize the U.S. Air Force’s strategic bomber portfolio, to keep the airspace domination of the U.S. military in the world, and to master the dominant deterrence force against China and Russia. The current U.S. bomber fleet is comprised of 61 B-1B Lancer bombers which cost $283 million each, 20 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers which cost $2.4 billion each, and 76 B-52 Stratofortress bombers which cost $14.43 million each, for a total of 158 aircrafts. Yet the brand-new B-21 Raider flying-wing stealth bombers which cost (only) $564 million each are attracting a lot of worldwide attention, and will enter service soon.

On June 8th, at a House Armed Services Committee (the panel) hearing, Darlene Costello, the Air Force’s Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, made the latest progress updates on the B-21 program and the bomber force at large. She revealed that the first two prototype examples of the (so-far) highly secretive B-21 Raider stealth bomber have now been completed at Plant 42 of Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, California. The Air Force now expects the rollout of the aircraft in early 2022, as the service prepares to start extensive ground tests and simulations at Edwards Air Force Base, California, for the two new flying-wing bombers; the first flight would be kicked off the middle of this year. The first operational B-21 are scheduled to enter service at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The initial operating location will be followed by Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, currently the home of the B-2 bombers, as well as Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, which currently hosts B-1B bombers. At the same time, she also confirmed that it has no plans to retire additional aging B-1B until deliveries of the Raider begin, scheduled for replacement some time in the mid-2020s, at the earliest.

In the meantime, Lieutenant General David S. Nahom, the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, confirmed the Air Force’s plans to field a future force of 225 bombers to the panel. As all B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to be retired, this means that the planned bomber fleet will be comprise of all 76 Cold War-era B-52s that are still in service today, but will be significantly upgraded. There are also 149 B-21s, if there are real concerns on the pace of the B-21 Raider program.

According to Nahom, with the pending arrival of the B-21 Raider, the Air Force is currently in the process of retiring from service 17 of the most worn-out B-1B Lancer bombers to reduces its quantity from 62 to no less than 45 aircrafts until B-21 stealth bombers become available as direct replacements. This is because the combatant commanders need sufficient firepower in the next 5, 7, 10 years. Recently the entire B-1B fleet was grounded due to a problem with the fuel system, as heavy combat usage in Afghanistan and the Middle East in the recent years has taken a toll on the B-1B fleet. 

Lieutenant General S. Clinton Hinote, the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements Headquarters, told the panel that we can’t get the B-21s fast enough, as the risk in the bomber portfolio is high; we’ve got to do better as soon as possible to promote the B-21 capability and capacity. In its recent budget request for the 2022 Fiscal Year, the Air Force asked for $2.873 billion for continued work on the B-21 to prepare for initial production of the bombers. Of course, some changes might have to be made to the B-21 in light of testing, which presents another risk of delay in the program.

Until the B-21 is finally unveiled, many aspects of the aircraft itself remain a mystery, and Air Force officials have been tight-lipped about its exact capabilities. For instance, we don’t yet know if all the B-21 bombers will be nuclear-capable. Currently, all B-2s can carry nuclear weapons, none of the B-1s can, and dozens of the B-52s have had their nuclear capability removed. 

Whatever types of weapons they will end up carrying, the B-21 is set to provide a step-change in capability for the U.S. Air Force, which now looks likely to completely promote a strategic bomber pattern by trading 20 B-2s for close to 150 B-21s under collective procurement, which will also substantially replace the hard-worked B-1Bs too. This should be an amazingly great deal, as they are spending same amount of money on B-2s to buy over 7 times the amount of B-21 stealth bombers with similar performance to overhaul its ability to dominate highly contested global airspace, making sure the cornerstones of the U.S. become stronger and stronger to establish and maintain world order!

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Proofread/Posted by: Brain Sanitizer

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