The American war zone website reported in July 13th that the US Air Force's new B-21 "attacker" stealth strategic bomber is steadily going into production and will eventually replace the existing B-2 "ghost" strategic bomber. At the same time, as it plans to retire all the old bombers in 15 years, the air force will have to come up with solutions as soon as possible, how to save or deal with these aircraft in a practical, safe way to meet any existing or future arms control agreements.
The report said that currently, the US Air Force has 20 B-2 strategic bombers, except one, and the rest are parked at Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri. Only a small number of B-2 bombers are ready to carry out operational tasks. But if the B-21 bomber project is still under plan, the B-2 bomber should begin to move towards the end of the 2020s, and may completely withdraw from active service by 2032, according to the officially announced bomber Development Guide (Bomber Vector).
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The picture is the B-2 stealth bomber of the United States Air Force
Linda Frost, a spokesman for the US Air Force Global Strike Command, told "war zone" in an email. "It's too early to discuss how the B-2 bomber is going to deal with the future. It would be too hasty to release any information on this aircraft decommissioning plan at this time.
All bombers in the air force, including B-1, B-2 and B-52, are reported to be managed by the air force as soon as the B-21 is in service, the report says. We also interviewed the Public Affairs Office of the 309th air force maintenance and regeneration Brigade (AMARG) of the US air force. The brigade is responsible for the management of the "aircraft cemetery" at Davies Monson Air Force Base in Arizona. They told us that the 309th Aerospace maintenance and regeneration brigade will lead the future plan of dismantling B-2 bombers.
However, if the air force does not really plan for the B-2 bomber, it must do so at once. Based on many factors, the air force may not be able to throw these planes into the Davies Monson desert as they did many other models in the past.
According to the report, only B-2 highly sensitive structure may have more requirements for physical safety. Although it was first flying in 1989 and carried out many years of research and development before that, the B-2 aircraft and its stealth features and many details of its parts have always been highly confidential.
All aspects of the B-2 aircraft are still confidential, so that media reporters are prohibited from taking the rear part of the aircraft. Therefore, no matter where the B-2 is stored, even if it is temporary, the US Air Force will have to make sure that the spies, thieves, or just "air fans" are hard to break into.
This may also exclude the direct delivery of these aircraft to government managed museums or third party museums without dismantling confidential and other special components. The US Air Force had had a difficult process to display the toxic coating of the radar wave, dismantle the still sensitive task system and change some of the structure of the F-117 night hawk stealth fighter.
In addition, it is worth noting that the United States Air Force National Museum has a B-2 test machine that can't fly and need to be improved to be exhibited safely in its exhibition hall. They may not be interested in using another aircraft unless they can first find a new destination for the existing aircraft. If possible, a few aircraft may be sent to other spectacular American aviation museums, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Museum, near Dulles, Virginia. However, the air force must come up with a plan to deal with the remaining majority of the aircraft.
Moreover, this is not the first time the air force has had to face this particularly sensitive logistics problem. When the F-117 fighter was formally retired in 2008, the air force stored them in a secret Toma test range rather than on the big "plane graveyard".
Even for the Tonopa test range suitable for the task, the base still needs to be improved to meet the needs of the stealth aircraft. The United States Air Force spent more than about 2000000 dollars to upgrade the site before the F-117 aircraft "night Hawk" was retired. It took more than 1 years to complete the process.
However, it is unclear whether the B-2 aircraft needs such stringent security measures. The remaining F-117 aircraft are kept under the so-called "1000 type storage" standard, which requires them to receive a certain amount of regular maintenance and other checks so that they can return to the battlefield immediately when necessary.
Most of these planes dismount the wing, and 4 groups are sent to a hangar to save space and money. A small number (reportedly 6 or so) remain in a state of flight.
According to the report, there is no indication that the US air force is willing to pay a very high price to manage the use of B-2 aircraft according to the "1000 type storage" standard. Because the cost of maintenance brought by this measure is not low, and these aircraft may compete with new B-21 aircraft in the end. As a result, it might be easier for the US air force to store these B-2 "ghost" planes at Davies Monson's "plane graveyard" at the Tonopa test range open space or in some cases.
That being said, however, the US Congress authorized the US air force to allow F-117 to enter this idle state in the 2017 fiscal year. Although the possibility is very small, it is possible for MPs to put forward similar requirements to preserve these old stealth bombers, at least until the B-21 "attackers" reach enough and prove to be able to finish the task well.
Of course, the US Air Force has another option, which is to destroy them completely. This process has its own complexity, because it must be enough to prevent anyone from acquiring any sensitive material.
In addition, the air force may refer to its experience in handling F-117 aircraft. In August 2008, Lockheed Martin destroyed a research and development YF-117 aircraft with a serial number of 79-0784. The aircraft is not suitable for storage in the Tonopa test range, and the air force believes it does not have any "historical significance". (compiling / Song Caiping)
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