A closer look at the B-21 Bomber coming to Ellsworth AFB
WASHINGTON D.C. — With the announcement of the B-21 Raider coming to Ellsworth Air Force Base, it begs the question of what the new aircraft is and how it differs from the aircraft currently in use.
The B-21 Raider is the latest development in a long line of bombers utilized by the United States.
In previous conflicts, bomber aircraft have been proven to be an invaluable tool in delivering a large number of munitions into enemy territory.
From the start of planning for the B-21, three main concerns needed to be addressed by the new craft — range, payload and survivability.
The range of this new bomber is possibly the most crucial design aspect. Long range enables responsiveness anywhere around the world in a matter of hours, and that range can be extended through in-air refueling.
The range paired with an advanced stealth system means that the B-21 will be able to deliver a precision payload during times of conflict without entering the range of enemies.
The current B-2 Spirit is able to deliver a variety of high-precision munitions during combat which has a huge impact in neutralizing enemy capabilities in the field.
The new B-21 is expected to have the versatile payload capabilities of the B-2 Spirit and expand on them to also take part in nuclear missions.
Another question to consider is this: why invest in a new bomber now? The previous line of B-2 Spirit bombers is aging with the average plane clocking in at 22 years old. Northrop Grumman states that there are currently 16 B-2 Spirits that are combat ready. Since the B-2 is the only plane capable of surviving the advancing air defenses found around the world, it is time for an upgrade.
The U.S. Air Force has stated plans to construct 100 B-21 Raiders starting in the 2020s. When construction is done, the Air Force fleet will be fully stocked with an aircraft that will last for decades to come.