FighterSweep Fans, we’ve heard a lot about folks who are disgruntled with the Air Force’s new B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber. Senator John McCain, as an example, has repeatedly threatened to block funding for the LRSB because of the proposed “cost-plus” contract structure. Others have also bad-mouthed the program because of a thick veil of secrecy. Things about the program are classified for good reason, and recently former members of USAF senior leadership have weighed in. Read on!

The United States faces a diverse array of security challenges around the globe, from the continued threat of terrorism, to maneuvers from rapidly advancing militaries, to existential threats from nuclear capable adversaries.  For decades, the U.S. has relied on technological superiority to secure peace and prosperity.

Recently, however, waning resources and steady progress by potential adversaries diminish our military’s advantages.  In light of our declining advantages in this time of considerable uncertainty, we must continue to invest in key capabilities necessary to deter and defeat aggression.  Key among these capabilities is a long-range strike bomber capable of striking any target in the world.

To that end, the Air Force is investing in a new advanced stealth bomber, the B-21, which will maintain our ability to project power anywhere in the world.  B-21 will also form an important leg of the nuclear deterrent force – the so-called “Triad.”

B-21: Former Air Force Senior Leaders Weigh In
Infographic on the nuclear deterrent triad in its Cold War and current form. (Courtesy of USNWC)

B-21 is important because as our adversaries continue to field improved defense systems, our aging bomber force’s capability to project power is declining.  Today the US has fewer than 100 combat ready bombers, of which less than 20 can operate in the face of modern air defenses.  A new long-range sensor-enabled shooter force has been a national security priority for over a decade and is desperately needed to meet current and future threats.

Recently, some have raised concerns about oversight of the B-21 program, including the limited information about the program that has been publically released.  As with many other advanced technologies, details about the B-21 program have been classified to keep potential adversaries from learning key details about the program.  Despite this secrecy, Congress has conducted rigorous oversight of the program, as it does with other classified programs.

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(Featured Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force)