The future of the B-21 Raider bomber is at stake if it fails to meet the new capabilities required. Although it has not yet completed all the tests nor has it entered series production, its performance will be decisive for its continuity. Northrup Grumman continues to develop this strategic aircraft.
An Emerging Capability: China
Analysts from the Asia-Pacific region reveal that the United States is preparing a strike force that will include B-52 Stratofortress and B-21 Raider bombers. While the former will act at a distance, the B-21 will assume the responsibility of operating in contested environments and close to the adversary.
The possibility of substitution
Lieutenant General Richard Moore, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, confirmed that there is a possibility of replacing the B-21 if it does not meet expectations. The Pentagon has taken similar actions, such as withdrawing programs due to evolving threats.
War challenge and budget
Uncertainty over whether the B-21 will be able to match China‘s modern warfare capabilities poses a hidden threat to the military budget. US experts suggest that at least 225 B-21 bombers and B-1 and B-52 would be needed to counter Beijing. Washington plans to build at least 100 B-21s, but that number could be doubled to ensure parity.
The crucial role of the B-21
The survival of the US mission in a conflict with China will largely depend on B-21 bombers, not missiles or fighter jets. The B-21’s deep penetration capability would allow US aircraft carriers to stay safe from the Chinese coast, out of range of Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles.
Challenges and prospects
The B-21 will face numerous challenges, such as anti-aircraft missile systems in enemy territory and the need to operate while ships and submarines are in port to refuel.
The number of bombers produced yearly raises questions, as the United States can currently only make 8-9 B-21 bombers per year, which is far from the desired number.
Time is a crucial factor. If the B-21 fails to counter the emerging capabilities, a new bomber design will be required. China is rapidly increasing its military capability, intensifying the importance of the B-21 as the backbone of US bomber aircraft.