The ADF’s long-range capability gap could be filled by the acquisition of the B-21 stealth bomber, currently under development in the US.
According to ASPI’s Marcus Hellyer, ‘the Australian Defence Force’s long-range strike cupboard is bare’. In this article Hellyer makes the following points:
- One option that could deliver formidable long-range strike power well before Australia’s future submarines arrive is bombers.
- The only real candidate for a crewed long-range bomber is the B-21 stealth bomber, planned to enter US service late this decade.
- The B-21 will have three or four times the range of the F-35, which are only capable of about 1000 kilometres without tanker support.
- The B-21 could be based deep inside Australia, far from threats—due to its long-range capabilities—and still not need to rely on tanker support.
The US is aiming for a unit price under $1 billion. Therefore, a squadron of 12 aircraft will likely total around $20–25 billion once bases, support systems (such as simulators) and maintenance facilities are considered.
- Aug 2020 ASPI Australia’s air force should already be planning to replace the F-35
- May 2021 Defence Connect The B-21 bomber, Australia’s next deterrent
- Jun 2021 Breaking Defence Supporting Australia To Deter China Helps America
- Jul 2021 Australian Aviation Comment: Why Australia Needs The B-21 Raider