FighterSweep Fans, the Air Force is re-examining the number of new B-21 Long Range Strike Bombers (LRS-B) it will need to fulfill combatant commander requirements going into the next three decades. While the initial call was for anywhere between 80-100 of these aircraft, some are calling for 175-200. It’s a pretty impressive number and, undoubtedly, a pretty impressive price tag will accompany it.
The House Armed Services Committee is directing the U.S. Air Force to examine the possibility of expanding the Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber program. While the Air Force wants to buy between 80 and 100 B-21 stealth bombers, others including former service intelligence chief Lt. Gen. David Deptula—dean of the Mitchell Institute—have called for as many as 175 aircraft to be built.
“The committee directs the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report to the congressional defense committees that estimates the number of B-21 bomber aircraft needed to meet the combatant commander requirements,” reads the bill text.
The report will include:
– A Detailed explanation of the strategy and associated force sizing and shaping constructs, associated scenarios and assumptions used to conduct the analysis.
– A range of numbers to meet requirements for B-21 bombers given best case and worst case assumptions and the associated risk based on Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff risk management classifications
– A Detailed transition plan that integrates the B-21 into the current bomber fleet through 2040.
In the markup language, the Seapower & Projection Forces subcommittee noted that its directive is based on testimony it has received. “The committee received independent testimony stating that the Air Force should procure between 174 and 205 B-21 bombers to ensure that enough aircraft are available to meet combatant commander, training, test, back-up inventory, and attrition reserve requirements. Additionally, [Air Force Global Strike Command] indicated that the previously announced 100 B-21 bombers should be treated as the lower limit of the total required number,” the committee’s language reads.