The Raider

The B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable penetrating strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The B-21 will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21s and B-52s. Designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.

The B-21 Raider will be a component of a larger family of systems for conventional Long Range Strike, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, electronic attack, communication and other capabilities. It will be nuclear capable and designed to accommodate manned or unmanned operations. Additionally, it will be able to employ a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions.

USAF releases first official photos of B-21 Raider stealth bomber in flight

Given its unique capabilities would it be possible to load a B-21 with air-to-air missiles and keep an entire air force at bay?

B-21 paired with the F-35

Eric Wicklund, former US Navy Operations Specialist, explains on Quora;

‘I give you the B-21 Raider (below) paired with the F-35, which could be an awesome combination.

‘Currently, the Chinese air force has a long-range missile called the PL-15, with a range of 120–190 miles. Some have called it an “AWACS Killer” because it can be loaded on the stealthy J-20 aircraft. Theoretically, J-20s might sneak past American fighters and launch on the AWACS or aerial tankers, removing vital force multipliers for the American side.

US Navy Operations Specialist explains how a B-21 Raider loaded with a gazillion of air-to-air missiles could keep Chinese J-20 stealth fighters at bay
Chinese J-20 armed with PL-15 missiles.

B-21 with a gazillion AIM-260 missiles

‘So, why not load up a B-21 with a gazillion AIM-260 missiles. F-35s would scout ahead looking for any J-20s trying to slip past the fighter screen. J-20s are stealthy, but not as much as the F-35, and this would allow the F-35 to target the J-20 before they get close enough to launch. An F-35 pilot could request a launch from the B-21 and then take over control of the missile, directing it towards the inbound J-20.

‘And even if a J-20 is able to launch, F-35s could direct the missiles to intercept the inbound PL-15s.’

Wicklund concludes;

‘Other than that, there’s no reason to expect holding off a large air force with just one aircraft. If it’s big enough it won’t be stealthy enough. If it’s stealthy enough it won’t have space for the fuel to have the necessary loiter time. But, having multiple aircraft teaming together, you could have similar effect.’

US Navy Operations Specialist explains why China is not yet able to build a stealth fighter jet comparable to the F-35
This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Northrop Grumman, U.S. Air Force and emperornie via Wikipedia