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US Air Force's new stealth bomber will replace B-1s and B-2s while older B-52s keep flying

02:41  14 february  2018
02:41  14 february  2018 Source:   latimes.com

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The U. S . Air Force plans to retire the B - 1 and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B-21 long-range stealth bombers become ready. She said the Air Force would fund development of replacement engines for the B - 52 and that it would continue to modify the B - 1 B and B - 2 aircraft "to keep them relevant

The U. S . Air Force plans to phase out its B - 1 B and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B -21 bomber , currently being built in Palmdale by Northrop Grumman Corp., becomes operational in the mid-2020 s .

Artist rendering of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber.© U.S. Air Force/Los Angeles Times/TNS Artist rendering of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber.

The U.S. Air Force plans to phase out its B-1B and B-2 bomber fleets as the new B-21 bomber, currently being built in Palmdale by Northrop Grumman Corp., becomes operational in the mid-2020s.

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That would leave the Air Force of the future with the B-21 and the aging B-52 Stratofortress bomber, which first became operational in 1952, during the Truman administration. Both the B-1B and the B-2 are decades younger, faster and present smaller radar targets than the B-52. But the older plane can carry a lot of weapons and it's far cheaper to operate.

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The U. S . Air Force plans to phase out its B - 1 B and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B -21 bomber , currently being built in Palmdale by Northrop Grumman Corp., becomes operational in the mid-2020 s .

The U. S . Air Force plans to retire the B - 1 and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B-21 long-range stealth bombers become ready. She said the Air Force would fund development of replacement engines for the B - 52 and that it would continue to modify the B - 1 B and B - 2 aircraft "to keep them relevant

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement Monday that the service will update its B-52 bombers, which like the B-2 and B-21 can carry nuclear weapons. She said the Air Force would fund development of replacement engines for the B-52 and that it would continue to modify the B-1B and B-2 aircraft "to keep them relevant until the B-21s come on line."

The timeline of the planes' retirement will depend on the B-21 production and delivery schedules.

The news was first reported Sunday by trade publication Aviation Week.

The Air Force's active bomber fleet is currently comprised of 75 B-52s, 62 B-1Bs and 20 B-2s. The service has said it plans to buy 100 B-21s by the mid-2030s for at least $80 billion, though the exact amount is classified.

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The U. S . Air Force plans to phase out its B - 1 B and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B -21 bomber , currently being built in Palmdale by Northrop Grumman Corp., becomes operational in the mid-2020 s .

Los Angeles Times – Air Force plans to phase out its B - 1 B and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B -21 bomber , currently being built in Palmdale by Northrop Grumman Corp., becomes operational in the mid-2020 s , according to a report.

Mark Gunzinger, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the move to phase out the B-1Bs and B-2s is likely budget-driven. The Air Force needs to modernize and reinvest in a number of its key assets, including its fighter jets, bomber forces and unmanned systems, and that is a "daunting challenge."

But he said the phase-out would exacerbate an already-existing shortage in long-range strike capability.

"Premature retirement of viable long-range strike weapons is just going to make that problem worse," Gunzinger said. "I would keep the B-2s as long as they have useful operational lives. I would try to get every year I can out of them."

Originally envisioned as a fleet of 132 nuclear-capable bombers, the Air Force ended up getting only 21 B-2 aircraft as costs increased and the Cold War ended, leading to questions about why the aircraft was needed. The B-2 was ready for combat by 1997.

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12/02/2018 · The U. S . Air Force plans to retire the B - 1 and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B-21 long-range stealth bombers become ready. and the Old B - 52 . B - 1 s in Guam for second.

Air Force ’ s new stealth bomber will replace B - 1 s and B - 2 s while older B - 52 s keep flying . By Samantha Masunaga / Los Angeles Times. The U.S. Air Force plans to phase out its B - 1 B and B - 2 bomber fleets as the new B-21 bomber

That small number of planes meant that the cost per flying hour is more expensive than that of the other two current bombers. But Gunzinger said a lot of money has been put into the B-2 over the years to "improve their capabilities." Stealth maintenance and technology has improved over the years, but overhauling a B-2 bomber has traditionally been a major, and costly, task.

Even the conventional bomber B-1B, which was ready for combat in 1986, is newer than the B-52. Gunzinger said there have been several discussions over the years about replacing the B-52's engines to decrease maintenance costs and increase fuel efficiency, a plan that could cost $7 billion or more.

"From a strategic perspective, from a force planning perspective, prematurely retiring bombers doesn't make sense," he said.

Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, said in the Monday statement that the B-52 has a projected service life through 2050 "with an adequate sustainment and modernization focus" that would help the plane continue to be a "key part of the bomber enterprise well into the future."

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