During March, the U.S. Air Force deployed three of its twenty B-2 stealth bombers to the Asia-Pacific region for training. But should the United States consider permanently basing stealth bombers in the region?
In the case of the B-2, logistically it would probably not make any sense to permanently base the aircraft overseas with only twenty aircraft in the total fleet.
However, the Pentagon hopes to buy between eighty and 100 new Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike-Bombers (LRS-B) in the 2020s. As China’s power continues to grow, there is a case to made for basing some number of those aircraft in the region.
American bases in Japan, South Korea and Guam might be vulnerable to Chinese missile attack, if the United States based B-21s in Hawaii, Alaska and Australia, it would shorten the distance those aircraft would have to travel. That would in turn increase sortie generation rates while also reducing the need for tankers if there were ever to be a conflict in the region. That would in turn increase the B-21’s deterrent effect. Basically, shortening the flight time has the same effect as increasing the fleet size.
China is developing a long range bomber of its own and it will also have stealth capabilities. Any new bomber will likely try to match the 25 year old B2 bomber in range and capabilities.