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Thu, Sep 22, 2022

USAF to Unveil B-21 Raider in December

Next-Generation Strategic Bomber Set for Reveal Ahead of Continuing Development

The Air Force confirmed plans to reveal the long awaited B-21 Raider by year’s end, finally showing off the futuristic replacement for both the B-1 and B-2 bombers.

The B-21’s unveiling will take place at a Northrop Grumman ceremony held at its production facilities in Palmdale, California in the first week of December. The Raider will be an immensely important aircraft, taking a prime position in the United States’ nuclear deterrent forces as a highly survivable, long-range, penetrating strike bomber. 

 

The stealth aircraft will be a qualitative improvement on the near half-century old B-1, offering a modern low-observable form factor with all the important accouterments required to play nicely with today’s more technologically integrated Air Force. The last new bomber, the B-2 Spirit, entered service just as the cold war ended before going on to maintain its position as a one-of-a-kind strike aircraft. To date, no other nation has fielded a competitively low-observable bomber, but the Spirit’s recipe is likely quite well known to peers and adversaries the world over. Retaining an American strategic edge will require a lot of the next-gen B-21, but USAF brass believes the Raider is up to the challenge.

"The unveiling of the B-21 Raider will be a historic moment for our Air Force and the nation," said Air Force Chief of Staff, CQ Brown, Jr. "We last introduced a new bomber over 30 years ago. As we look to the threats posed by our pacing challenge; we must continue to rapidly modernize. The B-21 Raider will provide formidable combat capability across a range of operations in highly contested environments of the future."

"The B-21 program is a powerful example of America's long experience with fielding advanced military technology through an innovative, adaptable and efficient defense industrial base," said Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "The Air Force made the decision early in the life of the program to make the flight test aircraft production representative, which is paying dividends as we look towards the first flight."

The B-21 will be equipped with a broad range of comms, sensor, weapon, and support systems to allow for a wider multi-mission capability than its predecessors. The Raider is manufactured under contract with Northrop Grumman, using the same open systems architecture seen in other USAF equipment for maximum interoperability throughout its service life. Once unveiled to the public, the B-21 program will continue its testing program at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to verify performance and identify problem areas as it moves towards full series production. 

FMI: www.af.mil

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