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B 1 and B 2 to retire before B 52
Posted on: 02/12/18

USAF to Retire B-1, B-2 in Early 2030s as B-21 Comes On-Line

The B-1 and B-2 bombers will retire more than a decade earlier than previously planned under the Air Force’s new Bomber Vector, a roadmap which also calls for re-engining and upgrading the B-52 so it can continue to serve into the 2050s. A draft of the bomber plan obtained by Air Force Magazine says the change is driven by the need to keep manning of the bomber enterprise to almost current levels, as the service doesn’t anticipate a big influx of new people. The B-1 and B-2 will have to give way to new B-21 stealth bombers because Air Force Global Strike Command wouldn’t have enough people to fly and maintain all four types. The B-52s, however, would be kept in service because they are comparatively easier and less costly to maintain than the newer bombers. They also can carry new stealth cruise missiles, and, in an uncontested battlespace, can employ a wide variety of munitions in large quantities. The Air Force expects the new bombers to take the place of the old ones at existing bomber bases, but the service sees the need for a massive infusion of military construction at those facilities to make them ready for the B-21. The new bomber will need secret new repair facilities and likely climate-controlled spaces for its exotic stealth materials. 

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