According to a report by the U.S. Defense News on the 11th, under the “Defense Authorization Act” in fiscal year 2022, the United States will require the air force to suspend retired B-1B “gun cavalry” bombers until the B-21 “Raiders” replace them.
Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, said that strategic bombers are important assets for the United States to compete with big countries and deal with “high-end rivals”. This time, Congress’s request to suspend the retirement of B-1B is an important weathervane.
The Defense News reported that as part of the Defense Authorization Act in fiscal year 2022, the U.S. Air Force will not be allowed to further reduce the B-1 bomber fleet unless the deployment of the B-21 has begun.
This ban will last until the end of September 2023. According to the report, Northrop Grumman has begun the construction of 5 B-21s, which are expected to be put into use in the mid-20s, which means that the B-1B fleet will remain at the current level of 45 in the short term. The “Defense Authorization Act” in the new fiscal year will also prevent the U.S. Air Force from reducing personnel driving or maintaining B-1B.
According to the Defense News, the U.S. Air Force retired 17 of the oldest and most dilapidated “gun cavalry” this year, so that maintenance personnel can focus on keeping the remaining 45 bombers running.
Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times that the United States would stop the retirement of B-1B, indicating that sufficient funds have been allocated for the bomber force in the new fiscal year. Strategic bombers are an important military asset of the United States to compete with major powers. This stems from the effective combination of strike power, mobility, range and economy by bombers.
According to the report of the Mitchell Institute in the United States, the B-2 bomber’s ground-to-ground long-range strike capability exceeds that of the Burke-class destroyer by 43%. A B-1B bomber equipped with a long-range anti-ship missile can perform a sharlotte equivalent to a destroyer or a submarine. The 2 B-1B bombers can carry out sharlotting of the entire aircraft carrier-based aircraft fleet.
B-1B bombers can attack Western Pacific maritime targets within 13 hours after take-off. Bombers deployed in Hawaii can attack Western Pacific targets in less than 9 hours, and only one aerial refueling is required per flight.
Bombers deployed in Australia can reach the western Pacific Ocean within 6 hours and do not require aerial refueling. Due to its fast speed, the bomber provides a fast re-strike capability, which can return to the base within hours, reload and launch another strike. In contrast, submarines or surface ships that consume ammunition will take longer to return to the base for ammunition supply and then to the combat area.
Even if the U.S. Navy finds a way to load in theatre without returning to the port, the weekly “salute” of land-based bombers will still greatly exceed the number of surface ships and submarines launched.