The Air Force’s requirement for the B-21 Raider bomber, initially stated as “80-100” airplanes, is now officially at least 100 aircraft, the Air Force said in clarifying recent senior leader remarks. Written testimony presented to the House Armed Services Committee last week by vice chief of staff Gen. Stephen Wilson indicated that 100 is now the minimum number of B-21s required. Through a spokesman, the Air Force confirmed the number, saying the change happened “in Spring 2016” at the request of Air Force Global Strike Command. At that time, USAF established 100 “as the floor—not the ceiling” for the B-21 fleet size, he said. AFGSC “requires a minimum of 100 B-21 Raider aircraft, with a mix of legacy bombers, to meet future COCOM [combatant commander] requirements,” the spokesman said. He noted that AFGSC chief Gen. Robin Rand told AFA’s Mitchell Institute in July last year that 100 aircraft, and “not one single one below that,” was his “best military advice” on the B-21 fleet size. “I can’t imagine how I would deal with the missions I have, with fewer bombers than we have in today’s inventory,” Rand said in his Mitchell remarks. It was not explained at the time that Rand’s advice had become official policy because of the B-21’s secrecy.
Update: This entry was updated on March 15, 2017, to fix a previous error regarding the witnesses at a March 8 House Armed Services Committee testimony.