“It’s the ultimate hangar queen,” said Winslow T. Wheeler, an analyst at the Center for Defense Information, a Pentagon watchdog group.
The bomber, he said, is not useful for waging the kind of warfare being fought today against low-tech enemies. “It’s irrelevant in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
The Air Force spent more than $800 million last year upgrading, maintaining and overhauling the stealth bomber fleet. For each hour it’s in the air, a bomber spends 50 to 60 hours on the ground undergoing maintenance.
The Pentagon, however, contends that it needs the bomber to extend U.S. military might across the globe.
In February, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he did not expect the Air Force to develop and field a new bomber for nearly two decades, leaving the B-2 as the nation’s most advanced bomber for the foreseeable future.
The B-2 has seen action in both Iraq and Afghanistan, flying into heavily defended areas and clearing the way for other fighters and bombers by knocking out radar installations.