By Marc Ramsingh
For years the United States Air Force (USAF) has been operating the B-2 Spirit Bomber, designed and manufactured by Northrup Grumman. The B-2 bomber was one of the best in stealth technology the world had to offer. However, with a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, it is vital that the U.S. military and intelligence stay ahead of the pack, especially with stealth technology which was addressed in part with the unveiling of the B-2 Spirit Bomber’s successor, the B-21 Raider. The B-21 Raider answers a lot of concerns for the USAF and Intelligence, and with the stakes heightening at every turn stealth technology may be the key to winning future global conflicts.
Why is stealth technology so important?
Low observable technology can make or break a conflict. Surveillance is the most obvious way that stealth craft makes a difference in a conflict. The ability to gain intel from a foreign adversary such as China would be a turning point, as referenced in the Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China, which states that “the PRC presents the most consequential and systematic challenge to U.S. National Security and the free and open international system”.
This is an important reason for the B-21 Raider’s development and why the U.S. military stealth fleet is worth over $200 billion according to my estimate (do note, though, the U.S. military keeps a lot of information regarding advanced weaponry classified, so this is made using open source research).
Reaching foreign adversaries without being detected even by advanced means is why stealth was created. USAF Bombers are able to make an impact during conflict via advanced bombing methods. The U.S. Navy is also capable, with their stealth craft such as the Zumwalt-class destroyer which is outfitted with a highly advanced radar system and Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). While there is a debate in U.S. National Security if stealth crafts are worth the investment due to advancing adversaries’ detection systems, it is clear that if there is a nation that is capable of staying undetected it is the United States. If done right, the U.S. can keep its goals abroad a priority.
What is the United States’ goal with the B-21?
The U.S. military makes a strong effort to stay at the top of the world in its military capabilities; as a result of this commitment the U.S. Air Force made an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a new stealth bomber in July 2014. The bidding process for the new bomber was expensive and extensive, and Northrop Grumman was selected to design and make the stealth craft. The B-21 Raider is anticipated to replace older models of the U.S. stealth craft inventory like the B-2 Spirit Bomber and the Rockwell B-1 Lancer in the LRS-B (Long Range Strike bomber) program.
The new B-21 Raider is clearly a deterrence. While capable of being an offensive force, the U.S. strategy with stealth weaponry is mainly focused on defense and reconnaissance. To keep our adversaries at bay now and in the future, conflicts having numerous classified yet powerful bombers, along with ships capable of unprecedented stealth may be enough to win a conflict without a shot being fired.
Photo Courtesy // Northrop Grumman //