In episode 164 of the Aerospace Advantage, Tip of the Spear: Inside the 509th Bomb Wing and the Future of Stealth Bombers, John “Slick” Baum chats with Colonel Keith “Ghost” Butler, long-time B-2 pilot and commander of America’s sole stealth bomber wing.
The ability to attack any target around the globe anytime is a unique asymmetric advantage for the United States. Key policy options fundamentally rely on the B-2 and the men and women who fly and sustain the aircraft. The 509th is on call 24/7 to execute both nuclear deterrence and conventional strike missions—a tremendous responsibility. They make headlines wherever they fly. However, with only 20 B-2s in the Air Force’s inventory, the aircraft and crews are stretched thin under continuous high demand. Top defense leaders know it is time to build out America’s stealth bomber capacity—that’s why there’s such an emphasis on fielding the B-21, America’s newest stealth bomber. Col Butler explains the types of sorties he and his crews are flying, the realities of operating a jet as advanced as the B-2, and what it means to be dual-qualified for both the conventional and nuclear missions. Having commanded Detachment 5 of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Edwards AFB, Colonel Butler brings unique insights into what’s in store for tomorrow’s long-range strike mission. This is a riveting episode you will not want to miss!
Host: John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
Producer: Shane Thin
Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey
Guest: Col Keith “Ghost” Walker, Wing Commander, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB