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U.S. Retires US$4 Billion (RM18 Billion) B-2 Spirit Bomber, Declines Repair Due to “Uneconomical” Cost

The United States Air Force (USAF) has decided not to repair the B-2 bomber aircraft and instead retire the $4 billion (RM18 billion) aircraft due to the uneconomical cost of repairs, opting to retire it to save money.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The United States Air Force (USAF) has decided to retire a B-2 Spirit bomber aircraft estimated to cost US$4 billion (RM19 billion) that was forced to make an emergency landing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, in 2022.

The decision not to repair the bomber was made due to the uneconomical cost of repairs, with the USAF opting to retire it to save money.

With the retirement of the B-2 Spirit bomber, the USAF now only has 18 strategic bomber aircraft, which are frequently used in conflicts worldwide.

“The B-2 bomber was retired because the cost of repairing it was uneconomical,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense in its annual restructuring report.

A USAF spokesperson confirmed that the B-2 Spirit bomber involved in the 2022 incident at Whiteman Air Force Base experienced issues while in the air, necessitating an emergency landing that resulted in a fire upon touchdown.

B-2
The United States Air Force planned to build a total of 132 B-2 Spirit strategic bomber aircraft, but budget cuts limited the production to only 20 aircraft.

 

As a result of the incident, the USAF suspended the entire operations of its B-2 Spirit bombers for five months. In 2021, another B-2 Spirit bomber had to make an emergency landing due to technical issues.

The strategic bomber B-2 Spirit, developed by Northrop Grumman, is one of three strategic bomber aircraft operated by the United States Air Force.

 The other two are the Rockwell B-1 Lancer and the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.

The United States Air Force planned to build a total of 132 B-2 Spirit strategic bomber aircraft, but budget cuts limited the production to only 20 aircraft.

 The USAF intends to replace the B-2 Spirit bomber with its newest bomber, known as the B-21 Raider, which is currently undergoing flight tests.

B-21
The B-21 bomber is the first bomber developed by the United States in 30 years since the introduction of the B-2 Spirit bomber in 1988.The B-21 is capable of carrying a variety of conventional and nuclear weapons.

 

The new bomber is expected to enter USAF service in the mid-2020s, with the USAF planning to purchase 100 B-21 bombers to replace the B-2 and B-1B Lancer bombers.

The B-21 bomber is the first bomber developed by the United States in 30 years since the introduction of the B-2 Spirit bomber in 1988.

 The B-21 is capable of carrying a variety of conventional and nuclear weapons.

The United States Air Force plans to have up to 100 B-21 bomber aircraft, with the bomber development program spanning 30 years and expected to cost US$203 billion (RM812 billion).

The USAF aims to retire 932 combat aircraft from its fleet between 2025 and 2029 to save approximately US$18 billion (RM85 billion).

Lancer
The United States Air Force’s B-1B Lancer strategic bomber aircraft at Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore. (Credit: MINDEF Singapore)

 

Among the combat aircraft to be retired are one B-2 Spirit and 251 other aircraft in 2025, 293 aircraft in 2026, 235 in 2027, 95 in 2028, and 64 in 2029.

However, the USAF’s decision has been challenged by the United States Congress.

Equipped with four General Electric F118-GE-100 turbofan engines, the bomber can fly at speeds up to Mach 0.95 and operate up to 6,000 nautical miles without needing to refuel.

 It is also capable of carrying 40,000 pounds or 18 tons of weapons and bombs, including conventional and nuclear. — DSA

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