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USAF Replaces Bomber Aircraft

USAF Replaces Bomber Aircraft 22 September, 2016

The US discussed the modernization of USAF bomber fleet at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference held on 19 September. Having a total 158 B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers in their inventory, USAF plans to bring in B-21s as they retire the aging fleet. The Air Force demanded systems that were survivable, reliable and efficient in the long run and a development contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in October 2015. The new stealth bomber cost $23.5 billion to develop and is worth $564 million per aircraft, according to US government estimates. USAF intends to procure a minimum 100 aircraft although the specific number is not yet decided. Northrop’s B-21 Raiders intended to be a heavy-payload stealth aircraft capable of carrying thermonuclear weapons. While the specific competencies the newest bomber will possess are still in discussion, the B-21 is decided to be manned with an option option to become unmanned in the future. In the past, the US had serious discussions regarding a high-cost aircraft. They planned to manufacture high amounts of F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft but ended the production due to unexpected increase in maintainance cost which directly added upon the unit cost of the aircraft. The US started discussing unrolling the same production line after more than ten years. Same issue is expected to come up for B-21 Raider as well.

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