Plans to Unmanned 'Wingman' on B-21 Bomber Canceled, US Air Force Secretary Calls Ineffective

Plans to Unmanned 'Wingman' on B-21 Bomber Canceled, US Air Force Secretary Calls Ineffective
The Plans to Unmanned 'Wingman' on B-21 Bomber Canceled

Washington - Plans to pair B-21 bombers with unmanned 'wingman' aircraft have been scrapped. This was announced by US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall recently. The idea was judged to be ineffective in terms of cost. Not only that, the B-21 may also later be directed to other destinations.

Quoted from Military Watch Magazine, Frank Kendall said the idea of ​​a similar long-range collaborative fighter was not cost-effective, so it's unlikely we're going in that direction, adding that the program was “less exciting than we thought. It could be."

Regarding the reason for the cancellation, Kendal explained that crew loading was one of the reasons. "For relatively small platforms, removing the crew can make it a lot cheaper. But for large platforms you don't get much because the crew is only a fraction of the weight, a fraction of the cost in comparison."

In addition to drones, the development of a manned fighter with a very long range capable of escorting the B-21 was also reported in 2018. When first announcing the escort drone for the B-21, Secretary Kendal stated the B-21 was a very expensive aircraft. "It has a certain payload and range. We want to strengthen the impenetrable capability, which is very valuable," he said.

The bomber's first flight has been delayed from 2021 to 2023, where it has its main and most challenging target considered the strategic nuclear arsenal of western China.

Whether the B-21 or its Chinese competitor the H-20 will fly first remains highly uncertain. However, the possibility continues to grow that the two could make their maiden flights within months of each other.

The B-21 is expected to replace all operational B-1B and B-2 bombers, both of which were extremely problematic to maintain and the former had begun early retirement.

As is known, on July 15, 2022, a photo of the Chinese Xian H-20 stealth bomber spread on the internet. Although there is no H-20 label, there have been previous reports that this sophisticated bomber is ready to make its maiden flight.

Quoted from Defense View, China started developing this strategic bomber first in the early 2000s, but was really serious about running from 2018 until the 202 H-20 was believed to adopt an aerodynamic flat-wing design like that of the US Air Force (USAF) flagship bomber. ), B-2.

Such a design is indeed to meet the requirements of stealth capabilities and also safety and requirements for long-distance travel. In addition, the H-20 can carry air-launched hypersonic missiles, as well as other ammunition of up to 45 tons.

The nose of this Chinese stealth bomber adopts a radar system and an active air phased array avionics system. The Xian H-20 has a maximum combat radius of 10,000 kilometers and a maximum flight range of 16,000 kilometers.

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