U.S. Air Force to restructure Pacific plans around new B-21 bomber

The Air Force is changing its approach for Pacific operations around the nascent B-21 bomber, which will fly and carry out more tasks than its predecessors, officials confirmed. The bomber will assist the air force in increasing its operations in the region, they say, and even reduce the service’s great vulnerability in a conflict with China: too many jets lying dormant on too few island runways.

“It’s going to have fantastic sensors and of course it will have lots of options for weapons to be employed as well as other effects that it can create,” Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces, said Monday at the Mitchell Institute. “The pilot-to-vehicle interface on that aircraft is a leap in capability compared to the B-2, and so the speed at which the crew can cycle through the threats and then get weapons on target is significantly faster.”

The bomber’s ability to act as an airborne data hub is an additional perk, Wilsbach said. He said the B-21 will act as an organization hub in larger, joint all-domain command-and-control schemes, assisting in both collecting and sending data to nearby jets and drones.

The “network between the B- 21 formations that are out there” will be “a game-changer from the standpoint of being able to get ordnance on targets faster at a rate that the that the enemy, whoever that might be, will have a hard time responding to in a coherent way,” the general confirmed.

The B-21 was built to be a workhorse, Wilsbach said.

“The aircraft was designed to be a daily flier,” he said. “It’s maintenance- friendly. You can quickly repair it when it has a break and get it back up in the air and so you don’t have extended periods of time when it’s on the ground.

The plane only represents part of the process. The Air Force is working to move parts and technicians to more places to allow them to be on hand when required, Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, the director of logistics and engineering for Air Force Global Strike Command, told Defense One. 

“So, the tyranny of distance is certainly going to come into play. But our ability to be able to forward-position assets, so that if we had to go anywhere on the globe, that we would have assets available to be able to employ our weapons when we need them” eases the problem, Bell said.

The service’s recent 2024 budget request includes several hundred million dollars for prepositioned equipment, Wilsbach said.

“One of the aspects of actual combat employment that’s difficult to do is logistics, especially logistics that’s under attack,” he said. “Our thought is, if we preposition some of the equipment that we might need, especially in the early days of a potential conflict, you relieve some of that burden to get logistics in there immediately. And so we’re already beginning to preposition.”




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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