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The air force now seems to be the testing of components and the build of the first models of the new, very secret of the B-21 stealth bomber, a platform intended for a target at risk, anywhere in the world, at any time, for the coming decades.
Despite a chorus of the dialogue about the pace of technological progress going on with modern anti-aircraft, the new bomber is said by senior Air Force leaders to be of a totally new generation of weapons, sensors, attacks, and stealth technology applications.
Although, of course, the exact timing of certain stages in the development of these weapons system are understandably not available for reasons of safety — the B-21 is basically a “black” program — a senior service developer to point to great progress with the program now that it’s gone beyond the critical design review in a manufacturing phase. Former air force Secretary, Heather Wilson, made specific reference to the plane of the construction in a written statement included in the United States Air Force 2018 Acquisition Annual report. Wilson said: “the B-21 program is on the right track…if it is the transition from the design phase in a robust production phase that will ultimately produce our first B-21 test aircraft.”
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Wilson’s reference to a first B-21 test plane seems to be rather large and fully in accordance with the purpose of the current acquisition phase of the platform is to undergo — Engineering -, Production-and Design-the point in the process where platforms are built. The program seems to have a completely on-track given the fact that her plans to have an operational aircraft of the mid-2020 has not changed over the years. The service plans to buy at least 100 of the new bombers. (To read Warrior’s previous report on the B-21 CLICK HERE)
“The program has completed a critical design review in November 2018, and continue with detailed design work,” the Air Force report stated.
The air force Acquisition Report also contains a number of other important details. While the B-21, of course, a nuclear-armed platform, the report provides a timeline for the integration of nuclear weapons, stating that there is “nuclear certification within two years of initial operational capability”
Long-Range Stand-Off Weapon
When it comes to nuclear weapons, it seems likely, if not certain, that the B-21 is armed with the now-in-the development of a Long-range Stand-Off Weapon (LRSO). The air force Acquisition Report suggests that the LRSO is designed to be compatible with the B-52 bomber and the B-21 Raider. In addition, the report of the service says that the air force will acquire 1,000 LRSOs.
The air force states that “the initial operational capability is planned for 2030.” The program completed the Systems Requirements and Functional Systems Reviews in 2018, the report said.
The air force is working with the industry on the development of prototypes and designs on the nuclear-armed cruise missile, is set to enter into a new Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the construction by 2022, service officials said.
The US Air Force weapons developers find that the emerging nuclear-armed Long-range Stand-Off weapon will enable strike forces to attack deep into enemy territory and help in overcoming high-tech on the challenges posed by the emerging opponent’s air defenses. Air Force officials have told Warrior the development of LRSO is, by design, closely connected with the Pentagon, the Nuclear Posture Review.
The LRSO will ensure an air-launched component to the Pentagon’s current desires to expand in the attack envelope of possibilities for its nuclear arsenal; the NPR calls for the addition of a new low-yield submarine launched nuclear-armed cruise missile.
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A cruise missile armed with nuclear weapons, it may be possible to targets that are inaccessible for certain stealth aircraft, given the increasing speed with which the modern air defenses are able to detect a wider range of aircraft to the possibility of detecting some stealth bombers.
As a result, senior Air Force leaders say that the creation of a new, modern Long-Range Standoff weapon with nuclear weapons can make one of the very few assets, weapons, or platforms able to penetrate new high-tech air defenses. Such a possibility is, as a consequence, deemed to be of crucial importance to nuclear deterrence and the ratio needed in order to avoid great-power warfare. Some have raised the question of whether a nuclear-armed cruise missile could lower the threshold to a nuclear engagement or, at the very least, lead to confusion among the enemies who might mistake a conventional attack to a nuclear one. Pentagon and air force engineers have consistently maintained that the weapon will be an indispensable element for OUR deterrence strategy.
Therefore, in the case of a major nuclear attack on the united states, a stand-off air launched nuclear cruise missile can, together with the submarine launched nuclear missiles, one of the few weapons that are able to return to store and function as an essential deterrent against a first-strike nuclear attack.
The LRSO will be developed to replace the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM, currently able to the fire of a B-52. The AGM-86B has far exceeded its intended lifespan, that emerged in the early 1980s with a 10-year lifespan, Air Force statements. Both the ALCM and LRSO are designed to fire both conventional and nuclear weapons. While Air Force officials say that the current ALCM will remain safe and effective, it is targeted support and operational challenges against emerging threats, service officials acknowledge.
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