a reply to: intrptr
Another billion dollar bomber? To project force-- erm, Democracy abroad , no doubt.
The unit cost of the B-21 is planned to be significantly less than a billion dollars per. Maybe half that.
Meanwhile, other countries are investing in small light weight weapons systems, that deliver warheads without a huge expensive platform needed
to fly them all the way there.
If other nations were running off the edge of a cliff, would you follow them?
A manned bomber has several advantages over ballistic missiles or cruise missiles.
- A bomber can have a network of sensors such as electro-optical sensors and synthetic aperture radar to search for mobile targets before destroying
them, whereas a ballistic missile or cruise missile must search a small area (if it has sensors), attack a fixed target point (if it does not), or
rely on off-board targeting systems. This means the bomber OODA loop is much faster and therefore it can adjust to changing conditions much more
easily, spend time loitering and observing, or have the weapons impact exactly when needed. Bomb-Damage-Assessment could even be conducted immediately
after a strike, with a follow up strike occurring soon after.
- A bomber can launch conventional airstrikes as well. It's not just about launching nukes:
If each aim-point there corresponded to a JASSM it would have cost 65 million dollars for that strike. Note that this is still a relatively short
range missile that still requires a launch platform.
If each aim-point there corresponded to a TLAM it would have cost 140 million dollars for that strike. Note that this is still a short range missile
that still requires a launch platform.
Granted, each JASSM/TLAM does have more explosives than each 500 lb bomb.
If we kick it up a notch from JASSM / TLAM, to achieve the same affect without nuclear weapons, exactly how many Iskander missiles would be required
to launch? Note that Russia has 136 Iskander launchers total
(America will have 100 B-21's
). And how much do you think these would cost
compared to say, a TLAM or JASSM? The answer is a whole lot more (12 launchers
200-300 million dollars US
). And of course a B-2 has effectively unlimited range, an Iskander has a range of several hundred kilometers.
It wouldn't surprise me if a B-21 used only once, would still deliver more value than conventionally armed Iskanders of the same cost.
If we expand the range out to match B-21, we end up with conventional armed ICBM's which are extremely expensive and risk starting nuclear war. Or
SLCM's that you guessed it - require an expensive launch platform.
Without sensors how do you determine which airbases and parking spaces actually have aircraft in them, do you then attack them all, making the attack
even more expensive? Do you instead attack civilians or less militarily useful targets?
The only way cruise missiles or ballistic missiles can achieve the same effect is with a completely overwhelming (read: expensive) attack, like when
the US attacked the Syrian airbase with TLAMs (which may have given Syria a bloody nose, but did not
have much military affect) or with nuclear
weapons. Use a nuke against NATO and a B-21 or F-35 will nuke you back, as has been made recently clear so that rules that option out.
Not every attack requires this many munitions, but it is merely one example.
- B-2 can strike without warning. Short range cruise missiles require a launch platform which can be detected unless it's stealthy and expensive, long
range missiles can be detected by satellites and radar (and the transported-erector launchers can then be destroyed on the move by a B-21 even before
they launch). The only exception is a nuclear powered cruise missile, but you're pretty unlikely to be using them in a conventional war.
- Other countries do not have the same geopolitical position as the United States, long range is therefore important. Tactical fighters cannot do
everything and have disadvantages - such as bases close to the target as well as limited range (therefore predictable flight paths). Range means a big
- A bomber is a good example of a high-low mix. High (the highly complex aircraft). Low (the low complexity aircraft - the bombs).
- A B-21 is also so much cooler than a ballistic missile and large tractor.
The B-21 is a far more useful weapon in reality than all of Russia's "super"-weapons combined. The good news is that Russia's new "super"-weapons are
scary and should provoke a response to the detriment of Russia, they are excellent propaganda (just not in the way that favors Russia).
Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
edit on 6/3/18 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)
edit on 6/3/18 by C0bzz because:
(no reason given)