JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. - UPDATE 2/14: Wing commander, Brig. Gen. John Nichols said, " "The Department of Defense assesses our force structure to account for the ever-evolving landscape of adversary threats, tactics, and capabilities. Accordingly, the Air Force announced a new vector, providing guidance for the modernization of America's bombers. The B-21 is the future of our bomber fleet and will provide for continued readiness and reliability, ensuring we can support our allies and deter emerging threats efficiently and effectively. As we follow this new vector, we will continue--as we always have--to operate a world-class installation, enabling and executing our nation's strategic bomber missions. We will continue to fly and modernize the B-2 as the first B-21s become operational. Once we have a sufficient B-21 fleet, the B-2 will be incrementally retired; we expect the B-2 to be flying into the 2030s. With Congress' support and approval, bases that currently have bombers--such as Whiteman AFB--will continue to have bombers in the future. We at the 509th Bomb Wing and our Total Force partners in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve look forward to the future of American air power."
ORIGINAL STORY: The U.S. Air Force announced plans on Monday to retire the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
Roughly 20 B-2s are stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Johnson County and Guam, a U.S. territory.
Military leaders are replacing the B-2, known as the most advanced stealth bomber in service, with the new B-21 Raider, which is still in development.
Keeping the B-2s modernized until the B-21 Raider is ready for delivery was part of President Trump's budget request for next year.
"I'm pleased that the Air Force has assured me that Whiteman Air Force Base will continue to support our bomber mission for decades to come," said Rep. Vicki Hartzler about the future of the bomber fleet. "This program stands at the forefront of the nation's defense modernization efforts and will eventually build on the B-2's legacy as the world's most advanced long-range strike bomber: one of our adversaries' most feared weapon systems."
The B-21 Raider is expected to join the 509th Bomb Wing once it's ready for operation.
"Whiteman has long been home to some of the most advanced weapons technology in our country's air defense arsenal, and today's news means it'll stay that way for decades to come," said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. "As our military adapts in the face of changing threats from our enemies, the men and women of 509th Bomb Wing have been at the forefront, and I’m thrilled this vote of confidence in the base means they’ll soon be mastering the cutting-edge tools they need to continue to keep us safe.”
The B-21 Raider will allegedly give the U.S. more capability with lower maintenance costs to the taxpayers.