Here's what the US Air Force has planned for all its bombers
- The US's three bombers - the B-1B Lancer, the B-2 Spirit, and the B-52 Stratofortress - will be joined or replaced by the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
- The B-52 is expected to fly through the 2050s, and the B-2 accomplished a number of firsts this summer. The B-1B, meanwhile, had particularly low mission readiness this year.
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The US has three bombers - the B-1B Lancer, the stealth B-2 Spirit, and the B-52 Stratofortress - to deliver thousands of tons of firepower in combat.
Some form of the B-52 has been in use since 1955. The B-1B took its first flight in 1974, and the B-2 celebrated its 30th year in the skies in 2019. A new stealth bomber, the B-21, is in production and is expected to fly in December 2021, although details about it are scarce.
The US Air Force has been conducting missions in Europe with B-52s and B-2s in order to project dominance against Russia and train with NATO partners, but the bomber fleet has faced problems. The B-1B fleet struggled with low readiness rates, as Air Force Times reported in June, likely due to its age and overuse in recent conflicts.
Here are all the bombers in the US Air Force's fleet.
The Air Force's B-1B Lancer has had problems with mission readiness this year.
The B-1B was considered nuclear-capable bomber until 2007, when its ability to carry nuclear arms was disabled in accordance with the START treaty.
The B-52 bomber has been in service since 1955.
As of June 2019, there were 58 B-52s in use with the Air Force and 18 more with the Reserve.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is the only stealth bomber in operation anywhere.
The Spirit can fly at an altitude of up to 50,000 feet and has an intercontinental range.
Little is known about the B-21 Raider, the Air Force's future bomber.
Air Force Magazine reported in July that the B-21 could fly as soon as December 2021.
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