The U.S. Air Force unveiled its new long-range stealth bomber, Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider, this week. Northrop Grumman is the aerospace, defense, and security company contracted with the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. The bomber is expected to become operational in the next few years and will phase out the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers currently used.
The new stealth bomber was the first developed by the U.S. since the end of the Cold War. Military officials expect to have at least 100 B-21s within the next several years. The bombers cost $700 million each.
Unveiled today, 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.(U.S. Air Force photo) pic.twitter.com/X6KSU7sy6U
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) December 3, 2022
Northrop Grumman has released this sixth-generation bomber. The B-21 includes stealth technology, advanced networking capabilities, and open systems architecture. The bomber will be crucial for use in a high-stakes environment.
U.S. Air Force officials hope the Raider will become the backbone of the fleet. It can deliver conventional and nuclear payloads and use stand-off and direct attack mutations through its advanced data, sensors, and weapons. The B-21 is a digital bomber that uses cloud technology. Cloud-based technology will result in more sustainable aircraft at a lower cost.
Unlike its predecessors, the B-21 Raider will not undergo block upgrades. The bomber’s technology and weapons are incorporated using software upgrades and hardware flexibility. Northrop Grumman says skipping the block upgrades through new technology will allow the bomber to meet evolving threats for decades without significant design changes.
During the unveiling ceremony, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said, “The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades. It is a testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation. And it’s proof of the Department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future.”
At the ceremony, officials explained how the B-21 Raider got its name. The bomber was named in honor of the Doolittle Raid of World War II. Lt. Col. James Doolittle led the raid on April 18, 1942. Doolittle also volunteered to lead the response attack after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.