More
    HomeMilitaryB-2 Stealth Bomber Divestment: A Strategic Shift as B-21 Raider Emerges

    B-2 Stealth Bomber Divestment: A Strategic Shift as B-21 Raider Emerges

    Published on

    spot_img
    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Stealth Bomber, AV-10 – 88-0331 ‘Spirit of South Carolina’ at KBAD Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Airshow” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The United States Air Force has made a strategic decision to not repair one of its B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, which experienced a costly mishap, and instead, the venerable aircraft will be formally divested.

    This move comes amidst the anticipated introduction of the new B-21 Raider stealth bombers, slated to replace the B-2s and B-1 bombers, signaling a shift in the USAF’s strategic arsenal and the evolution of its deterrent capabilities.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Stealth Bomber, AV-4 – 82-1069 ‘Spirit of Indiana’ at KBAD Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Airshow” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The B-2 Spirit, an iconic symbol of American airpower, suffered a ground accident assumed to be uneconomical to repair. The incident took place on December 10, 2022, during an emergency landing followed by a fire at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, the main operating base for the B-2 fleet.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Stealth Bomber, AV-4 – 82-1069 ‘Spirit of Indiana’ at KBAD Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Airshow” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The Air Force has been tight-lipped about specific details surrounding the mishap and the projected costs of repair, referring to the aircraft in an April Pentagon force structure report as “presumed to be uneconomical to repair.”

    The B-21 Raider was unveiled to the public at a ceremony December 2, 2022 in Palmdale, Calif. Designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    This decision is consequential for the fleet that has been a cornerstone of America’s nuclear triad, demonstrating advanced stealth capabilities essential for penetrating enemy territory and delivering precision-guided munitions.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Stealth Bomber, AV-4 – 82-1069 ‘Spirit of Indiana’ – AND – 61-006, Old Soldier II – AND – 60-008 Lucky Lady IV – Boeing B-52H Stratofortress BUFF at KBAD Barksdale AFB Defenders of Liberty Airshow” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The divestment of the damaged B-2 not only underscores the challenges of maintaining a small, specialized fleet but also the complexities and high costs associated with the B-2’s composite structures and exterior coatings.

    A B-2 Spirit prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 during a mission in the European Theater supporting NATO Operation Allied Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Ken Bergmann) ( Released )

    Significantly, the damaged B-2 is the same one that, after its emergency landing, blocked the single runway at Whiteman for over a week, causing a six-month grounding of the entire fleet.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit AV-2, ‘Spirit of Arizona’ – 82-1067” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    This event reiterated the fragile nature of these sophisticated aircraft and the impact of such incidents on the readiness and operational capability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber – AV-17-20-92-0700 ‘Spirit of Florida’” by TDelCoro is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Though the specific costs to avoid the now-planned B-2 divestment are unknown, the price tag associated with B-2 repairs has been historically steep. After an earlier mishap in 2010, the Air Force spent $105 million to repair another B-2, which also included the price of a planned overhaul.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit AV-11, ‘Spirit of Washington’ – 88-0332” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    It is evident that return on investment considerations and the lengthy timespans often needed to return damaged stealthy aircraft like the B-2 to service are influential factors in the Air Force’s calculus.

    Gen. CQ Brown Jr highlighted the B-21 Raider as an example of successful design implementation for the Air Force under “Action Order D” of his goal to Accelerate Change. Image 2 of 2” by U.S. Air Force is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

    Looking ahead, the B-21 Raider is in low-rate initial production, with the first pre-production aircraft having completed its maiden flight in November 2023.

    Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III delivers remarks at the U.S. Air Force B-21 Raider unveiling ceremony, Palmdale, Calif., Dec. 2, 2022. (DoD photos by Chad J. McNeeley)

    Officials have expressed optimism about the progress of the B-21 program, suggesting that the new stealth bombers will begin entering service in the late 2020s.

    B-2 Spirit 002” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    While the existing B-2s still have service years ahead, with further upgrades and capabilities in the pipeline, the incident marks a turning point in the Air Force’s long-term strategic bomber planning.

    Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, Stealth Bomber, AV-5 – 82-1070 ‘Spirit of Ohio’ at KBAD Barksdale Defenders of Liberty Airshow” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The B-2 Spirit bombers have been a symbol of technological innovation and military strength, but the costly decision to divest one of these stealth giants indicates a pivotal move towards the next generation of aerial warfare.

    As the B-21 Raider prepares to take flight, the Air Force’s bomber fleet is poised for a new era, ensuring that the United States remains at the forefront of stealth and deterrence capabilities in an ever-evolving global security landscape.

    Relevant articles:
    Damaged B-2 Won’t Be Repaired, Fleet To Shrink To 19 Jets, The War Zone
    US Stealth Bomber Crash: Pentagon Decides To AXE The ‘Irreparable’ Warplane Damaged In 2022 Accident, EurAsian Times
    B-2 nuclear bomber fleet grounded amid search for safety defects, Air Force Times
    A Tale of Two Bombers, Air & Space Forces Magazine

    Latest articles

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...

    The B-21 Raider of the U.S. Air Force Prepares for Deployment Despite Production Hurdles and Hypersonic Competition

    The B-21 Raider, the United States Air Force's new stealth bomber, is edging closer...

    More like this

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...