AirAsia Pacific

Australia Urged to Invest $25B in B-21 Stealth Bombers to Deter China

Defense analysts in Australia are urging the government to allocate funding to buy advanced B-21 stealth bombers from the US.

Marcus Hellyer and Andrew Nicholls wrote through the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank that the country must weigh the aircraft’s massive cost with the advantages it could provide.

The recently-unveiled sixth-generation stealth bomber is on track to cost nearly $700 million per plane. “We estimate the total acquisition cost for a squadron of 12 aircraft to be in the order of $25–28 billion,” Hellyer and Nicholls wrote.

But the two defense analysts believe that “a number of factors potentially offsets that cost.”

Deterrence by Denial

“The worst-case scenario for Australia’s military strategy has always been the prospect of an adversary establishing a presence in our near region from which it can target Australia or isolate us from our partners and allies,” Hellyer and Nicholls noted.

The B-21 could deliver the long-range strike capability needed to deter China by denial: “having sufficiently robust capabilities to convince an adversary that the cost of acting militarily against Australia isn’t worth any gains that might be made.”

Hellyer and Nicholls also suggested that Australia should consider Beijing’s increasing strike capabilities, whether on naval or ground platforms.

‘Superior’ Capabilities

Unveiled earlier this month, the B-21 Raider is a long-range strategic bomber that can carry a mix of conventional and nuclear ordnance.

It is reportedly “21st century in every sense,” having superior stealth, avionics, sensors, and propulsion system.

Additionally, the bomber is described as a “versatile” platform since it will be able to carry out intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions.

Many commended its range as “no other long-range bomber can match its efficiency.”

“The B-21 will provide the United States greater flexibility in responding to combat contingencies in the Asia-Pacific,”  American defense analyst Timothy Heath told South China Morning Post. “The US no longer requires a base close to Taiwan, for example, in order to fly bombers to support a contingency near the island.”

In August, a senior US official revealed that Washington would consider providing Australia with B-21s as China continues to bolster its military capabilities.

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