HomeNewsArticle Display

B-21: Modernizing the bomber fleet

Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, gives a thumbs-up to the B-21 bomber's new name during the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. The B-21 will be known as the Raider. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, gives a thumbs-up to the B-21 bomber's new name during the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. The B-21 will be known as the Raider. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander,  speaks during a B-21 panel at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, were also members of the panel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, speaks during a B-21 panel at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, were also members of the panel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, answers a question during a B-21 panel at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander,  and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, were also members of the panel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

Randall G. Walden, the director and program executive officer of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, answers a question during a B-21 panel at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016. Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, and Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and requirements, were also members of the panel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Whitney Stanfield)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- Following the Air Force secretary’s announcement that the new long-range strike bomber would be called the B-21 Raider, Gen. Robin Rand, the Air Force Global Strike Command commander, said during a session at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 19 the name brought the past and present Air Force full circle by linking a success from the past with modernization that is currently taking shape with the new bomber -- and must continue to keep the Air Force ahead of its enemies.

“What I like about it so much is the 21st century B-21 and the name Raider connects us back to our rich heritage, and there’s no richer heritage than what happened on April 18, 1942: 80 brave men in 16 B-25 Mitchells took off from the Hornet and showed the Japanese that we had will, we had fight, and changed, many would say, the course of that war,” Rand said.

Rand stressed the aging bomber fleet was in need of an upgrade to combat future threats. In an ever increasing anti-access/area denial environment, the Air Force’s systems need to be survivable, reliable and efficient.

“We’ve got to modernize,” Rand said. “The B-21 is going to be a big part of modernization for our Air Force, so that we can continue to do the long-range strike mission.”

As America’s adversaries continue to update their systems, the U.S. needs to be ready to face them in order to maintain aerial dominance. Consequently, developing new technologies to meet threats is an increasingly relevant endeavor.

“We set priorities on some systems, and you’ll hear our senior leaders this week say ‘Hey, our three top (modernization) priorities are the F-35 (Lightning II), the KC-46 (Pegasus) and the B-21,’ said Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements and another B-21 panelist. “You know what that priority means is that we’re going to find a way to pay for those and we’re going to make those a priority in our budget … because we need to ensure we’ll be able to penetrate the enemy airspace and hold the targets at risk so the president of the United States has options.”

Capabilities

B-21 capabilities discussed during the panel ranged from whether the bomber would be manned or unmanned, to what kind of munitions it would carry, as well as the number of aircraft being acquisitioned.

While Rand stated the number of aircraft to be purchased hasn’t been officially decided, he does have a number in mind. “I’ve been on record saying we need to start with a minimum of a hundred B-21s and my premise for that is looking at combatant commander requirements we currently have,” Rand said, adding Air Force officials are also projecting what the next 50 years of combat requirements will be when deciding how many of the new bombers are needed.

“You have to have a starting point,” Rand continued. “You have to look at the total existing bomber fleet we have now. We have 158 total bombers, B-52s, B-1s and B-2s and I just, again, for the life of me can’t imagine our United States Air Force and our nation can have one less bomber than it currently has today. So, we start with 100, and as we manage the fleet and we manage retiring some aspects of the fleet and bringing the B-21 in, we need to really dig our heels in on what that ceiling should be.”

The specific competencies the newest bomber will possess are still in discussion, but Randall Walden, the third panelist and the director and program executive officer for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, stated that as of now, one decision – whether the B-21 will be manned or unmanned – has been roughly decided.

“Right now it’s manned, with the option to do unmanned in the future,” he elaborated. “But, recall this platform is a part of a much larger family of systems, and in that family it’s going to bring to bear probably some of the best capabilities in the nation. … From an unmanned point of view, it’s got a basic requirement stated. (The) question is, ‘What’s the right timing to bring that level of capability together with this type of platform?’”

Budget

“All three of our bomber fleets are gainfully employed every single day,” Rand said. “I sometimes think people need to realize you get a lot of bang for your buck with the bombers. … Conventionally we’re in every combatant commander’s (operational) plan.”

A priority for Air Force leadership, especially with recent year’s tightening budgets, is finding ways to maintain a strong national defense, while also remaining cost-effective.

“There are certainly things we need to do to reduce costs on these systems and (long range standoff) will continue to be a topic as we work through the budget process with the department,” Holmes said. “We’ll work within the Air Force budget to find ways to fund the nuclear enterprise, which is the foundation of (U.S.) defense.”

Engage

Twitter
“Agility Prime is about creating a new path to adopt advanced technologies in the Department of Defense by working… https://t.co/rzS29Cvhd8
Twitter
During a visit to @TeamMinot, @GenCQBrownJr had the opportunity to see how Airmen maintained operations during the… https://t.co/Jot5OwF6sm
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@PANationalGuard Medical Airmen with the 171st Air Refueling Wing honed lifesaving skills as part of an Ability To Survi…
Twitter
Registration for Hack-A-Sat 2, which enables security researchers of all levels to focus their skills and creativit… https://t.co/nxUKmkhiTA
Twitter
The Installation Resilience Operations Center prototype is a game-changing solution for enhancing base security, em… https://t.co/ATHhejDoQJ
Twitter
“It’s important that you will be able to lead through complex challenges,” @GenCQBrownJr said. “I really want to ch… https://t.co/UI86usPVtO
Twitter
VCSAF Gen David W. Allvin visited various @AFResearchLab facilities to see how the 711th Human Performance Wing is… https://t.co/F5tpk0Mabc
Twitter
Invisible Wounds: Signs and Symptoms The Invisible Wounds Initiative, an @AFW2 Support Program, leads in creating… https://t.co/4SeYhlQuua
Twitter
Maggie Gee and Hazel Ying Lee were two of the first Chinese-American aviators to join the Women Airforce Service Pi… https://t.co/txl43oLLRs
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: Listen to SrA Francis Andrew, assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, tell his story as one of the 'Lost Boys of Sudan.…
Twitter
#ICYMI Aircraft loaded with #COVID19 supplies left @Travis60AMW, California, bound for India. This shipment was jus… https://t.co/YdYFniZyok
Twitter
“While there are a lot of people who have done great things in the #AirForce, we wanted to recognize diversity and… https://t.co/bTH2aP5emk
Twitter
“It is a real honor, and I wish I could be there in person,”@GenCQBrownJr said during his acceptance speech. “I’d r… https://t.co/DH5Ou832K5
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ OSI's Guam based Detachment 602 recently spent time strengthening relationships throughout the Commonwealth of the North…
Twitter
RT @grandslamwing: Mobilizing to assist - anywhere, anytime. Members from #TeamAUAB aboard a C-17 from @TeamCharleston took off to assist t…
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@HiAirGuard Airmen deployed to California to participate in exercise Sentinel Response 2021 alongside @CalGuard Airmen a…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr and @cmsaf_official discuss the best ways to help Airmen's talent to bloom. #Airmen #Questionshttps://t.co/GGDHJkiOOb
Twitter
Airmen at the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas, demonstrated an autonomous machine solution for an @AFWERX innovation init… https://t.co/5ZGnnOPfYi
Twitter
During a quarterly senior leader review, @KesselRunAF & @USAF_ACC leaders agreed the Air Operations Center Weapon S… https://t.co/FnXQYIiG86
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,346,621
Follow Us