Potential bases in Asia for the B-21 RAIDER to deter China 01/02/2024 | Fabio Di Felice

A new report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) boldly reports that the proliferation of missile arsenals in the Asia-Pacific region, and the development of long-range fire capabilities, may help stabilize the region.

In accordance with the London-based think tank institute, the rapid development of these capabilities by Japan, South Korea, and Australia will create a balance of power, noting that the growth in arms could boost deterrence against potential Chinese, and North Korean, military offensives. The report also underlines the critical role of the US, not only regarding Taiwan, but for the entire Indo-Pacific region, where its capabilities still represent a game changer, strategically and operationally.

Indeed, as a means of ensuring regional stability, the report specifically pointed to the huge impact that USAF’s B-21 RAIDER could have in any potential conflict in the area. The very low-observable bomber, equipped with all the different variants of the new AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) will be able to significantly extend the USAF’s ability to project power at long ranges while remaining undetected. At this stage, Northrop Grumman’s new bomber, unveiled in November 2023, and currently under flight testing, will be delivered starting from mid-2020s.

If already deployed in the area, the RAIDER could be able to enhance its - currently unmatched - role and readiness, and so the deterrence of the US against China. According to this position and its sources, the IISS report presented 4 possible basing locations for the B-21 in the Asia-Pacific region, 1 in Guam and 3 in Australia. In detail, the first option sees the RAIDER deployed at Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam, which will allow the bomber to reach all the Chinese mainland territory, and North Korea, without air-refueling requirements. The other 3 Australian options, RAAF Base Darwin, RAAF Base Townsville, and RAAF Base Amberley (Brisbane) will be able to reach almost the same results by teaming the B-21 up with the AGM-158D JASSM-XR, the highest performance JASSM variant, with a range of up to about 1,118 miles. Built to defeat modern air-defense systems and attack extremely deep targets, the JASSM-XR is scheduled to begin delivery in February 2027.

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