Technology The First Two B-21 Bombers Are Nearly Complete—and the Air Force Already Wants More of'Em
An F-15 Just Made the World’s Longest Missile Shot
The Eagle fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM at a target drone.In March, an F-15C Eagle based at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida launched an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) at a subscale BQM-167 target drone over the Eglin Test and Training Range, according to an official Air Force statement. The missile shot was a joint exercise involving the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron and the 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron.
- Northrop Grumman is constructing the first two .
- While these particular B-21s are test units, the Air Force plans to eventually use the planes as replacements for the Air Force's and .
- The service is pushing for nearly 50 percent more bombers than originally planned.
The first two—which will eventually be able to carry both and —are nearly mechanically complete, but still won't fly until 2022.
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The U.S. Air Force's (USAF) bomber program, designed to field a replacement for theand by the late 2020s, is on track. That's a rarity in the world of military hardware procurement. Still, Congress is calling on the service to accelerate the program; USAF isn't budging.
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DON’T COUNT AFGHAN MILITARY OUT: While acknowledging the outcome of the war between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government is uncertain, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said the Afghan military should not be counted out. © Provided by Washington Examiner DOD header 2020 “It's not a foregone conclusion, in my professional military estimate, that the Taliban automatically win and Kabul falls or any of those kinds of dire predictions,” Milley said, standing alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a Pentagon briefing yesterday.
"Once we get through design and get the first ones delivered, we can adjust production rates and maybe affect them that way, but we have to get through the engineering with solid discipline," Air Force acting acquisition executive Darlene Costelloon June 8.
One major reason the Air Force doesn't want to speed up the B-21 program is that, while the bombers are almost mechanically complete, the service has not yet solidified the overall design for the larger fleet. The service is concerned that speeding things up could introduce concurrency issues.
That's a circumstance in which an aircraft is built before the design is finalized. The Air Force intentionally introduced concurrency with theto make planes available to pilots sooner, with the idea that the service would eventually update the early production jets to match the final hardware and software standard.
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indeed got pilots into F-35 cockpits faster, but it also created the nightmare of hundreds of jets, worldwide, built to different hardware and software standards. As a result, the military required billions of dollars in additional funding to bring the fighters up to the final standard. Although the Air Force is eager to get the B-21 Raider flying, it would prefer not to repeat such a complex and expensive headache again.
Lt. Gen. David Nahom is asst chief of staff of USAF for plans and programs. In his written testimony to the HASC today, Nahom calls for a preferred 2-bomber fleet size of 225 aircraft. There are 76 B-52s. That leaves room for 149 B-21s.— Steve Trimble (@TheDEWLine)
It's also expressed a strong interest in a future fleet of 225 heavy bombers. The Air Force currently has 158 bombers, with 62 B-1 Lancer bombers, 20 B-2 Spirit bombers, and 76 B-52H Stratofortress bombers. The B-21 will replace the B-1 and B-2, while the B-52H will fly on through at least the 2040s, if not into the 2050s.
In order to reach a future fleet of 225 bombers, the service would need 149 B-21 Raider bombers. That's nearly a 50 percent increase in demand, up from the Air Force's original plans to buy about 100 of the planes for a maximum of $665 million.
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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party and allies seemed poised to keep a majority in Mexico’s lower chamber of congress in initial results.López Obrador’s Morena party will have to rely on votes from its allies in the Workers Party and Green Party, but together they were expected to capture between 265 and 292 seats in the 500-seat lower house. Morena alone was expected to win 190 to 203 seats, according to preliminary vote counts.