I just finished reading an online Popular Science article about the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber that can “sneak past enemy air defenses with the same radar signature as a small bird.” The article was about being able to “see” the bomber using Google Earth, but I was more interested in some of the information about the bomber itself and how it was recently used.
For those unfamiliar — this stealth bomber was designed during the Cold War (it would cost nearly $2 billion in today’s dollars), and is capable of deploying both conventional and thermonuclear weapons. As one person put it, “It is made to defeat the world’s most advanced air-defense systems.”
What most interested me in the Popular Science article, was their reference to a 2018 article for The Atlantic, in which the writer pointed out that the bomber was used to bomb no more than 100 men camped in the desert in a country that does not even have air defenses (my emphasis). He noted the following:
Bombing ignorant gunmen camped out in a desert of a non-country is a far cry from launching an attack against a modern military adversary. But the high cost of the mission was perhaps an attraction by bureaucratic if not military logic—you may lose money if you don’t spend it—or the B-2s might have just needed some work to do.
(Like preparing for a possible war with China or Russia?)
He goes on to say that it costs $44.27 million per year to maintain the bomber (2018 figures), making it the most expensive aircraft to maintain in the Air Force inventory.
He then notes that the Air Force is now considering the development of the B-21 Raider — “a new flying wing strategic stealth bomber that closely resembles the B-2 and is designed to replace the older aircraft” — for a an estimated cost of $203 billion. According to Air Force sources, the B-21 Raider is “designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment” … and will “play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.”
All this information was particularly interesting to me based on a recently expressed “need” by certain members of Congress to increase the Military Budget — yet those same individuals seem unable to justify the (considerably less) expenses connected with the Build Back Better plan.
Of course there is no argument that the defense of the United States against pernicious foreign powers is vital. Yet denying the people of this country the (minimal by comparison) funds they need to simply survive and/or live meaningful lives is, IMO, without excuse.