How many new B-21 strategic bombers should the Air Force buy? The Air Force says 100. Congress says maybe 200 or more. Who’s right?
I spoke with retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, dean of the Arlington-based Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies, and he told me the rationale behind the calls for increased orders of B-21s comes from concrete math based on strategy, whereas the current numbers are based purely off what the Air Force thinks it can afford.
“I think that we need to tie our force structure requirements to our national security strategy, as opposed to arbitrary budget restrictions,” Deptula said. “Resources certainly come into play and they are a factor but we need to start with, ‘OK, what is it that we need to satisfy the needs of the national security strategy.’”
The number that advocates typically cite when calling for increased B-21 orders is between 174 and 205.
A good rule of thumb for procuring advanced weapons systems is to calculate how many we absolutely must have, then double that. Then maybe we could send happy little reminder notes to certain world leaders that their non-stealthy, 1980s-relic, can’t-even-get-parts-for bombers still suck.
But my big takeaway from this story is what a criminal shame it is that our own Air Force brass is too cowed (or co-opted?) by this Administration to make its case to Congress about realistic force levels.