USAF May Need More than 100 B-21s

Air Force Global Strike Command boss Gen. Robin Rand said his command needs a “minimum of 100” B-21s, but indicated strongly that it should have more of the Long-Range Strike Bombers to perform all of its missions. “When asked to give my best military advice, I’ve said we should draw the line at 100 B-21s. Not a single one below that,” Gen. Robin Rand told an AFA Mitchell Institute forum Thursday. “What I haven’t been clear on is what is the ceiling on that, because we’re working our way through that.” Estimates of how many B-21s would be needed have ranged from 80 to 100. “I’ve been very clear at what the floor should be,” Rand said. While others may think differently, as AFGSC commander, “we need a minimum of 100, and we’re working our way through what should that ceiling be.” Rand said he could not imagine how he “would deal with the missions I have,” which go beyond nuclear deterrence, “with fewer bombers than we have in today’s inventory.” The current number of strategic bombers, he said, is 156, a combination of the aged B-52s that are likely to be phased out and 20 of the newer B-2s. (See also: Launching the New Bomber from the January issue of Air Force Magazine.)