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US to Retire B-2 Bomber Earlier then Planned, When B-21 Built

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  • US to Retire B-2 Bomber Earlier then Planned, When B-21 Built

    The US has announced it will retire the 20 planes in the B-2 fleet this decade, when the new B-21 nuclear bomber comes on line. The B-52 will be kept indefinitely. The B-1 will also be retired - it has already lost it nuclear capability.

    Not surprising - when you only build 21 planes, and name the planes after states, they are obviously "too valuable to lose" - so what was the point at two billion each?

    Link to WRAL Tech Wire, Excerpts.

    excerpt 1

    WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – In the topsy-turvy world of U.S. strategic bombers, older and uglier sometimes beats newer and snazzier.

    As the Air Force charts a bomber future in line with the Pentagon’s new focus on potential war with China or Russia, the youngest and flashiest — the stealthy B-2, costing a hair-raising $2 billion each — is to be retired first. The oldest and stodgiest — the Vietnam-era B-52 — will go last. It could still be flying when it is 100 years old.

    This might seem to defy logic, but the elite group of men and women who have flown the bat-winged B-2 Spirit accept the reasons for phasing it out when a next-generation bomber comes on line.

    “In my mind, it actually does make sense to have the B-2 as an eventual retirement candidate,” says John Avery, who flew the B-2 for 14 years from Whiteman Air Force Base in western Missouri. He and his wife, Jennifer, were the first married couple to serve as B-2 pilots; she was the first woman to fly it in combat.

    The Air Force sees it as a matter of money, numbers and strategy.

    excerpt 2

    The Air Force expects to spend at least $55 billion to field an all-new, nuclear-capable bomber for the future, the B-21 Raider, at the same time the Pentagon will be spending hundreds of billions of dollars to replace all of the other major elements of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. The Air Force also is spending heavily on new fighters and refueling aircraft, and like the rest of the military it foresees tighter defense budgets ahead.

    The B-2’s viability suffers from the fact that only 21 were built, of which 20 remain. That leaves little slack in the supply chain for unique spare parts. It is thus comparatively expensive to maintain and to fly. It also is seen as increasingly vulnerable against air defenses of emerging war threats like China.

    Then there is the fact that the B-52, which entered service in the mid-1950s and is known to crews as the Big Ugly Fat Fellow, keeps finding ways to stay relevant. It is equipped to drop or launch the widest array of weapons in the entire Air Force inventory. The plane is so valuable that the Air Force twice in recent years has brought a B-52 back from the grave — taking long-retired planes from a desert “boneyard” in Arizona and restoring them to active service.


    excerpt 3

    The Air Force had planned to keep its B-2s flying until 2058 but will instead retire them as the B-21 Raider arrives in this decade. Also retiring early will be the B-1B Lancer, which is the only one of the three bomber types that is no longer nuclear-capable. The Air Force proposes to eliminate 17 of its 62 Lancers in the coming year.

  • #2
    Sounds like the Air Force is becoming less and less relevant every day. Maybe they should build some new B-52's....


    • #3
      Not sure why the B-52 has to been dragged into this story... it can't fly unescorted in a heavily defended hostile zone. It's just a bomb truck that has to wait for everyone to suppress the air defences beforehand.
      "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
      Ernest Hemingway.

      Sapere aude.


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