US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Support SouthFront

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to se the full-size image

Written by Major S. Yakukho; Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review 2020 #6, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

Today’s strategic offensive forces (SOF) of the US Armed Forces include submarines (SSBNs) equipped with ballistic missiles (SLBMs), intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and strategic bombers (SBs) with nuclear bombs or air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). This triad, along with their command and communications system, provides the versatility and flexibility to optimise the Unites States’ strategies to meet deterrence, security and contingency objectives.

The joint actions of the triad and the duplication of some of its functions are the key to the survival of the American deterrent forces in the event of an attack and allow them to threaten a potential enemy in a crisis or conflict.

In addition, the current state of the SOF components themselves, especially their obsolescence and physical deterioration, pushes the US military leadership to carry out large-scale measures to deeply modernise all types of nuclear weapons carriers (NWC) in order to extend their service life and, as a result, carry out further replacement without compromising the state’s defence capability.

Currently, the SOF of the United States are armed with 14 Ohio-type SSBNs, 400 Minuteman-3 ICBMs with a mono-block head, placed in launching silos in several states, 46 SB B-52N Stratofortress and 20 B-2A Spirit aircraft.

The initial construction phase of the renewed SOF (until 2024) is planned to be carried out as part of the implementation of the Treaty on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START Treaty) concluded with the Russian Federation. In accordance with the document, the parties pledged to have 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, strategic bombers and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and deployed and non-deployed SB launchers by February 5, 2018. At the same time, the structure of the SOF and their quantitative indicators were determined by the participants themselves.

The US Strategic Bomber Force (SBF), according to the Pentagon, is the most flexible part of the nuclear triad. In addition to being alerted and sent to various regions of the world to carry out combat missions, the SBF’s aviation equipment can also be deployed to forward-based theaters in order to prevent potential aggression and support allies.

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to see the full-size image

Unlike ICBMs or SLBMs, the SOF forces, taking into account the available possibility of refueling in the air, are able to stay on the combat route for a long time, which in turn allows the aircraft crews to change targets if necessary. Under these conditions, flights outside the continental United States are aimed at demonstrating Washington’s capabilities and steadfastness to fulfill its obligations to their allies.

The SB have a wide range of weapons. In particular, the aircraft can carry different types of nuclear and precision-guided munitions, which provides the flexibility to deter potential adversaries under different conditions. So, with the help of B83 and B61-11 bombs, it is possible to defeat various highly protected targets. Therefore, both types of these munitions are planned to be kept in the arsenal until the effectiveness of the new B61-12 aerial bomb, which should appear in service in 2022, is sufficiently confirmed.

In addition, a significant maximum combat load of the aircraft (more than 20 tons) makes it possible to equip bombers with additional weapons, including SLCMs. This onboard weaponry allows them to strike at the objects of the likely enemy without entering the zone of destruction of its air defence systems.

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to se the full-size image

In addition to the B-52H Stratofortress and B-2A Spirit aircraft, the US Air Force’s strategic bomber fleet includes 62 B-1B Lancer aircraft. This technology, originally developed as a carrier of nuclear weapons, is converted into a non-nuclear version of the SB and is deduced by the American side from the calculation of strategic offensive weapons. To increase the ability to hit enemy targets with non-nuclear weapons, a programme is being implemented to expand the range of weapons used. In particular, since 2018, the new AGM-158C anti-ship missile has been included in the B-1B armament.

The Pentagon is actively implementing plans to modernise the SOF in order to maximise the life of the current fleet of the country’s Air Force.

In particular, a number of programmes are being implemented aimed at improving the avionics of the B-52N aircraft. In addition, it is planned to preplace its turbojet engines TF-33-103, developed by Pratt & Whitney, whose service life is limited to the early 30s. It is expected that the implementation of these steps will not only improve the flight performance of the aircraft (range and duration of flight), but also significantly reduce the cost of its maintenance. In total, the US military department intends to purchase about 650 new turbofan engines. The main manufacturers are the American companies General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to se the full-size image

In general, the military leadership of the US Air Force notes that the modernisation of the B-52N SB is a comprehensive programme aimed at improving the effectiveness of their combat use in future military conflicts in a single information and communication space. In addition, it is assumed that the measures taken will expand its capabilities for the use of conventional guided aircraft weapons, as well as allow the integration of new sighting suspended containers into the on-board weapons control system to be completed.

The B-1B Lancer bombers that are not subject to the START Treaty will be re-equipped with new avionics from 2019 in order to improve their information capabilities. At the same time, the existing problems of this type of aircraft do not allow American engineers to keep it in the national Air Force after 2040 without large-scale costs. According to the test results conducted in 2012-2013 for the strength and resource of the bomber by Boeing specialists, it was established that the element limiting the life of the aircraft is the lower surface of the wing, the total flight time of which should not exceed 15,200 hours. In addition, it is noted that is not economically viable for the Pentagon to repair this design. Another important factor pushing the leadership of the Air Force department to abandon the B-1B is the high cost of one flight hour (70 thousand dollars) and labour costs for its maintenance (74 people x hours, without taking into account the work to restore the coating of the aircraft). In this regard, starting from the mid-2020s, it is planned to remove the aircraft from service and replace it with the promising SB B021 Raider.

At the same time, the American military leadership considers it expedient to withdraw from combat service of the Air Force and strategic B-2A bombers Spirit, the maintenance costs of which are significantly higher than those of its predecessor (the cost per flight hour ranges from 110 to 150 thousand dollars). In particular, in accordance with the draft document Vector of Development of Strategic Bomber Aviation, the US Armed Forces command intends to decommission the B-1B SB by 2032, and the B-2A – no later than 2036. The decision is explained by the fact that the use of all types of strategic bombers, including the promising B-21, is financially impractical. The cost of modernisation of aircraft such as B-1B and B-2A is estimated at about 38.5 billion dollars. These funds are sufficient to simultaneously carry out such work on 75 B-52N (expected cost of $12-22 billion) and invest in the development of the infrastructure of the SOF. In addition, the SB B-52N is considered as a means of carrying the entire current and prospective range of nuclear weapons, including air-launched cruise missiles under development.

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to se the full-size image

In general, the leadership of the US Air Force by 2040 intends to have a fleet of strategic bombers with a total number of 175 units, as well as to maintain all existing air bases of the SOF.

An important stage in the construction of the updated strategic bomber forces will be the replacement of existing carriers of nuclear and high-precision weapons with a promising B-21 Raider aircraft.

This aircraft is considered suitable for assembly at the Northrop-Grumman’s facility in Palmdale (California).

US Air Force Strategic Bomber Outlook

Click to see the full-size image

The Pentagon intends to adopt the first production model of the B-21 after 2025. In total, the US defence ministry plans to deliver 100 strategic bombers of this type to the national Air Force.

In accordance with the plans of the Air Force command, this aircraft is planned to be built on the basis of the principle of “dual purpose”, which allows operation with both nuclear and conventional weapons. It is assumed that the use of technologies to reduce radar visibility on it will provide the possibility of covertly overcoming the enemy’s deeply echeloned air defence system.

The US Air Force command plans to spend from 36 to 56 billion dollars on the programme for the purchase of the B-21 Raider aircraft, the cost of one aircraft is estimated to be 564 million.

Overall, the United States, given the rapidly changing military-political environment in the world and the threats to national interests arising therefrom continue to consider strategic bombers, as an important element in ensuring the security of the US and its allies. In this regard, the Trump administration intends to continue the modernisation of the existing air fleet of the SOF, aimed at increasing the service life of obsolete and physically deteriorated bombers, while increasing their combat capabilities. The implementation of these measures, according to American estimates, will reduce the potential damage to the defence capability by updating the SOF fleet, which is necessary for Washington. In total, by 2040, the Pentagon intends to have 175 SB in combat, including 100 B-21 Raider and 75 B-52N Stratofortress.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Support SouthFront

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
52 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lone Ranger

You either rely on speed or stealth or both.
When it comes to Russia and China the U.S. doesnt have either.
Its a waste of money.
They should have scrapped the B-2 and B-21 and restart production of the B-1 with new engines capeble of reaching Mach2+.
Just my two cents…

Arman Melkonyan

Didn’t the original B-1 have that capability? It was intended to be a high-speed, high-altitude bomber, originally.

Lone Ranger

Yes and no.
You are partially right.
It had variable air inlets that were later scrapped when they realized Russian SAMs and heavy interceptors are too fast and they went from high altitude interdiction to terrain hugging, the inlets cost a lot but at low altitude they arent worth much so they scrapped it.
But even with the variable inlets it never had the speed it needed in the Mach 2+ territory.
Top speed was around Mach 1.65.
Compare that with the T-160.
Even the base model had Mach 2+ capebility now the new engines pushed it even further.
Top speed is confidental but it Should be at least Mach 2.5 or more.

Arman Melkonyan

Thanks for the info. I thought the B-1A’s top speed was around Mach 2. Guess I was wrong.

Jim Allen

Nyet, slower than molasses in January…..

Jim Allen

Russia is conservative with top speed ratings. If I recall the original flew
2.3 Mach top. It set a world record as fastest, heaviest, largest capacity strategic bomber. (still stands)

Lone Ranger

Indeed ?
Mig-25 and Mig-31 also have an official top speed of Mach 2.8.
Non the less Mig-25s were seen pushing Mach 3.2 and the Mig-31 Mach 3.4 by Greek radar operators.

Jim Allen

Maintenance costs, and the under wing surfaces are a problem. They’re no peach.
70 grand an hour to fly, plus 74 man X hours to maintain. Plus stealth coating.
Still not half the plane Tu-160 is.
That’s like F-22, and F-35.

occupybacon

Meanwhile… comment image

Potato Man

Were you saving that? That was from Dec-2018 wasn’t it.

occupybacon

From 9gag lol

Ryan Glantz

And you can bet the United States’ Military Industrial Complex has at least 3 more bombers in either working prototype or test phase already.

Jim Allen

Think any of ’em work right ?

Jesus

The B21 bomber will be winged shaped, subsonic and difficult to maneuver.
It will be stealth and very likely have stand-off capability.
This aircraft like other large aircraft will be susceptible to S400 40N6E missile, S500 and new other missiles that will supersede the 40N6E.

Servet Köseoğlu

Unbreakable,legendary-ultimate king of the sky B-52..TAIL GUNNERS Managed To Shoot Down two MiG-21 Fighter jets during the Vietnam War..xD
comment image

Jesus

That was 50 years or so ago, do you think it can repeat the feat against the Flanker platform?
This is an example of US planning of building B21 against weapons that can defeat it today.

Servet Köseoğlu

no ı dont think its possible and thats not my point just wanted to emphasize how legendary it is..

Jesus

Why is it not possible? The B21 will be similar to the B2, except it will carry stand off weapons.
A parallel mid set is the construction of carriers when two tactical hypersonic weapons are available.

Servet Köseoğlu

ı thought you were about b-52..sorry…well ı dont have info about this type of ”heavy hitters” since Turkey doesnt have any kind of these planes..ı am a navy guy warships,anti-submarine,submarine warfare,heli and a little bit short-mid-ranged aa’s..

Lone Ranger

U.S. lost 3,744 planes, 5,607 helicopters and 578 UAVs in NAM, from that 37 were B-52s.
Not counting South Vietnamese losses.
NV lost 230planes in total and a few dozen SAM sites.
I rest my case…

Servet Köseoğlu

you are always welcome bro…

Lone Ranger

Thank You ?

occupybacon

Yeah, they lost in 10 years few times more than Russia ever had and will have.

Lone Ranger

During the cold war numbers were in parity.
Truth hurts try to handle it…

occupybacon

On papers yes, in reality Soviet toys were rusty like Kuznetsov carrier.

Lone Ranger

According to soros news…
In reality U.S. guided missile cruisers arebthe most effective container ship homing devices and kamikazee drones…

occupybacon

In reality people that go out and work have healthy minds that don’t need to repeat the same expressions few times per day.

Lone Ranger

You should follow your own advice and skip the it was Russia Russia Russia narrative…

occupybacon

I said different sentences about Russia, you repeat the same words few times in a day.

Lone Ranger

Thats only the cherry on top.

occupybacon

Except you are searching the same cherry in your poop and eat it again every day.

Lone Ranger

You are projecting as usual.
Wonder why you have an anal/feces fixation…

occupybacon

Yeah, I’m projecting you eating the same shit again and again, that’s how people repeating the same shit are called in most cultures.

Lone Ranger

Ok Karen…?

cechas vodobenikov

bacon unable to progress past Freud’s 2nd stage of development: anal stage…you post feces often and we describe them as comedy at SF

occupybacon

Tell me something funny, chechas. How did Americans rejected you from their school cause your IQ was too high for them :)

cechas vodobenikov

bacon like 1 string guitar trying to play concerto with non existent 5 missing strings, she transforms Bartok into gypsy porn

occupybacon

chechas IQ so ‘high’ Americans sent him back ro Russia :(

Alberto Garza

russia was unable to control the skies over georgia in the 2009 invasion the georgians manage to shot down some planes including a tu-22

Lone Ranger

Fake news.
Russia defeated Georgia in 5 days.
The few losses they had were from Their own SAMs they sold to Georgia.
Cry more Shlomo…

cechas vodobenikov

did CIA bacon give LSD TO write this?

cechas vodobenikov

amerika and strategic = contradiction
designed to impress lumberjacks in canada

Dick Von Dast'Ard

A country with the deficit spending of two Russian economies annually now needs defense from itself.

It’s literally being bankrupted by it’s own guardians of the military.

Dick Von Dast'Ard

Currently, the SOF of the United States are armed with 14 Ohio-type SSBNs, 400 Minuteman-3 ICBMs with a mono-block head, placed in launching silos in several states, 46 SB B-52N Stratofortress and 20 B-2A Spirit aircraft. (SouthFront stats)

Seems to me that if you count the Tu-22M2/3 as a strategic bomber, then Russia has more nuclear capable strategic bombers available and in service.

Genghis Gobi

Freinds and infidels!

Here in Muhaysinic Emirate of Idlibistan we invention new super stealth super cheaply bomber plane! No noise, no visible on radar, no nothing! Here top secret, and also bottom secret, picture of Air Force of Idlibistan bombing pointy nose Syria dictator Assad and half naked Russia dictator Putin army! We willing to sell technology to Imperialist State of Amerikastan if willing to pay enough goat. Takebeer!

comment image

Samuel Vanguard

boondogles

Assad must stay

Hopefully it turns out like flop-35 ahahahaha

AM Hants

Talking of the US, the following is off topic, but, so needs sharing. Apologies.

UKRAINE RELEASES BOMBSHELL INFORMATION ON BIDEN TODAY! MIRROR THIS ASAP… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKDXVo-OKeQ&feature=emb_logo

RichardD

My view at this stage in the US electoral process. Is that you can argue whether Trump has done more harm than good in 4 years. A lot of what could be considered good that Trump can claim to be responsible for is what he hasn’t done that’s bad. Like starting new wars, crashing the economy, and doing more to make the scamdemic worse than he has.

You can also argue that a lot of the good that he wanted or wants to do is being obstructed by the political establishment in the US. Which I would agree with. Like building the wall, not wasting money, and stopping the wars. At this stage what’s important is what the outcome of the US presidential and other US elections are. I’m admittingly not a big fan of democracy, and the current mess is an illustration of why that is. But I’m also not a strong supporter of other political systems either. Because they’ve also been used to do a lot of harm.

I’m a supporter of meritocracy. Where government is judged by how good of a job that it does. Not by the political system that it uses. Which brings us to the issue of the outcome of the current US elections. At this stage, unless something changes, I’m taking the position of supporting Trump. Because at a minimum he’s the lesser of two evils. And if he does get a second term. He has an opportunity to implement America first by building the wall, draining the swamp, stopping the wars, etc..

So examining what the options are for getting him a second term includes the issue of election fraud. And how to use it to retract the Biden fraudulent “victory”. At this stage we’re at the point of does Trump have a rabbit in the hat to pull out to save the day and provide him with a second term? And if he does, what does it look like, and will it be successful?

I think that he probably does have options to overturn the election fraud. And is developing them in conjunction with many others who are working to overturn the fraud, including myself. And is reviewing his options to see what the best ones are.

Every day more evidence comes out of the election fraud. There have been some mistakes using evidence that subsequently appears to be disproven. Like the claim that more ballots in PA were sent in than were sent out. But that happens sometimes and doesn’t disprove the other evidence that hasn’t been disproven and outweighs the mistake by a substantial margin.

The modus operandi of how to use this evidence, and evidence that Trump and others have that hasn’t been released yet. Is what’s being worked out now. The systemic remedies of the courts and legislatures are progressively being deleted as these institutions and the people running them prove themselves to be corrupt and subversive of the law and national good. Which shouldn’t be surprising using the parable of judging a tree by it’s fruits. The US government and those controlling it have yielded a lot of rotten “fruit”. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the tree itself is also rotten.

The parts of the government and it’s controllers that aren’t corrupt and subversive of the law and national good are researching what options to develop and use to flip the election back to the rightful winner, which the publicly available evidence that I’ve looked at clearly indicates is Trump.

The paper ballots are a matter of public record and are required to be retained for 22 months by law. And should be able to be reviewed for fraud using scanning technology to separate fake ballots from genuine ones. The voting machines and vote collection and counting video tapes that haven’t been destroyed or tampered with. Should be obtainable for examination. So far the courts have extensively used procedural gimmicks and obstruction to block civil litigation discovery. And law enforcement corruption at the state and federal level have blocked meaningful criminal investigations that would yield criminal prosecution discovery.

Trump has allowed these processes to play out to demonstrate to everyone the corruption and law enforcement and judicial systemic dysfunction. But this hasn’t extinguished the non kinetic options for evidence discovery and exposing and mitigating the election fraud. The sequestered and classified evidence that in my opinion has already been obtained. Like the purported server seizure in Germany. Can be declassified and released into the public open source domain. To strengthen the case against the fraud.

A special prosecutor can be appointed by the new attorney general or directly by the President. To convene a grand jury, form a task force, and obtain evidence for indictments and prosecutions. That can continue to be submitted to law enforcement, courts and legislatures to attempt to overturn the obstruction of justice that they’re engaged in.

If this fails convening military tribunals are theoretically a possible substitution for civilian institutions subverting the rule of law and national good.

Some considerations in these civilian and military calculations are if federal and state security services, and or militia or private security substitutions or augmentations, would agree to support these options by carrying out search and seizure operations. That are necessary for evidence compilation and adjudication. And at what point is the kinetic threshold crossed during security services carrying out operations in support of election fraud mitigation LE and judicial processes. And when do these operations trigger kinetic operations by elements in the public domain like protests, riots, and insurrection.

All of this is occurring during a very short mitigation time frame when the fraudsters are attempting to bum rush the victims of election fraud. Without new evidence. The conventional LE and judicial, but not the legislative, process has pretty much run it’s course by now to a dead end. And the fraud mitigation process needs to be escalated to less conventional options to progress to a successful outcome of overturning the election fraud.

The paper ballots, voting machines and election process videos need to be obtained and forensically audited to provide prima facia evidence of fraud sufficient to mitigate the fraud so that the actual winner of the election obtains the office, not the fraudster. Preferably by the courts and legislatures if they’ll uphold the law for the national good. And by military tribunal if necessary, if there is support for that, which is questionable, but not impossible.

RichardD

The currently open source evidence of election fraud in the US general election is substantial, but it’s indicative, not conclusive. For Trump to overturn the election theft. He needs to upgrade the evidence from indicative to conclusive.

He may already have classified, and unclassified but currently sequestered, evidence that is in the conclusive category. That he can release on an as needed basis. He also has the option of comprehensively examining the paper ballots, vote counting videos, and voting machines, using executive orders and a special council and task force to investigate election fraud, that he or the attorney general appoints.

If the courts and legislatures reject conclusive evidence of widespread vote fraud sufficient to nullify the Biden “victory”. They will then prove themselves to the public and world that they’re complicit in the fraud. And are criminal actors themselves. If that happens. Then the security services will then be required to begin mitigating the fraud through arrests and military tribunals to prosecute the fraud committed by enemies foreign and domestic.

If the security services are willing to follow the law and chain of command for the national good. Then the people removed from positions of responsibility for criminal activity. Will then need to be replaced by new hires vetted properly, and new elections for vacated positions.

Bruno Gama

It´s my impression or the “B-21” is a absurd COPY of the B-2? And they will call it a “6th generation” bomber? All Warfare is made of deception, and should be. But the American brainwash only their people and some poodle vassals. American MIC of “Trump Era” is made in Videogame Factories and Hollywood… Other thing: what happened to the B-1 Lancer? We already know what happend to the “incredible” and “stealth” F-117 Nighthawk… the Serbian shoot down! In 2040, with more precise Radars and Electronic Warfare, the American Bombers will have 75% B-52 in operation? No B-52 will survive the First Strike, and the “Idea of Stealth” This, “Stealth” That is more and more questionable, day by day…

Bruno Gama

Strategy and American Military Industry Complex are two thing that doesn´t cooperate… They should start by reading the classics of War… Unfortunately Russia buyed this discourse of US MSM and DOD/MIC. And still talks about “Hypersonic” (high maneuvrable would be better) Hypersonic weapons are the ICBMs 25000km/h. And “Stealth”. Nothing is “Stealth”. If a “Stealth” fighter, with a range of 2000 km have a non “Stealth” refueling plane nearby, than it could be located and killed, even if it´s 100% Stealth, which Nothing IS! But it fits with the “Promisses” of Republican Idiots like Trump or Reagan, of “Star Wars”, or “US being completely safe of nukes”… Democrats are more dangerous, because they aren´t deranged like the Republicans… By the Way, no “Stealth” Israeli F-35 have bombed Damascus and take a selfie… there are S-300 batteries securing Damascus… An “Stealth” aircraft shouldn´t fear anything, should they?