The US Air Force will unveil its next-generation stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, during the first week of December, lifting the thick cloak of secrecy that has surrounded the aircraft’s development.
Northrop Grumman and the Air Force confirmed the schedule for the B-21 unveiling on Tuesday, saying it will offer an “exclusive look” at the aircraft at the company’s Palmdale facility. California.
The bomber, which will have nuclear weapons, will cost about $639 million per plane The pentagon plans to purchase at least 100 of them to supplement and eventually replace the aging B-2 Spirit.
“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is the product of groundbreaking innovation and technological excellence,” Northrop Grumman CEO Doug Young said in a statement.
Six B-21 test aircraft are in various stages of final assembly at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale facility, with the first test flight scheduled for 2023.
An exact opening date in early December has not yet been set, and officials say the event will be by invitation only.
Last July, the Air Force released the latest photorealistic concept of the B-21, which is the latest rendering of the aircraft available.
Unlike previous bomber concepts that were released in 2020, this image features a more pronounced beak at the front and a slanted window for the main cockpit windows.
The larger B-2 has four windows that run around the front of the cockpit.
The image also shows the bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where tests are expected to take place in the coming years.
The classified aircraft is still under development by the military and is part of the Long Range Bomber (LRS-B) program.
Previously released promotional images from 2020 show how the B-21 Raider will appear in hangars at various US bases – here at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota
The previously released 2020 promotional images show images of the B-21 Raider appearing in hangars at various US bases – here at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri
It is expected to enter service in 2026 or 2027 and complement the fleet of B-2 Spirit bombers as well as Boeing’s B-52 Stratofortress before eventually replacing them both.
“Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and the B-21 is key to that plan,” said Randall Walden, director of the Air Force’s Rapid Capability Office, in statement.
The B-21 is expected to undergo testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California
“The built-in functionality of the B-21’s open systems architecture makes the bomber effective as threats evolve. This approach to aircraft development puts the nation on the right path to ensuring America’s enduring aviation capability.”
All officially released images are artist renderings – official images of the top secret aircraft have not yet been released.
The first official rendering of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016, but only showed its basic form.
Renderings released in 2020 showed how the B-21 Raider would appear in hangars at various US bases, but were again scant on details.
The last image shows the cockpit and nose design in more detail. It also showed no sign of the prominent air intakes that could be seen in previous renderings, which were reportedly a point of contention during the design phase.
Raider is named after the Doolittle Raiders – fighters of the US Army Air Force who made the famous surprise attack on Japan on April 18, 1942 during World War II.
The B-21 Raider will be able to carry nuclear bombs, but will also be able to “use a broad combination of war and direct attack munitions,” according to the latest Air Force news release.
The first official concept art of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016, but its basic form was only shown in a very rough rendering
The B-21 Raider will join the B-2 Spirit (pictured) as part of the US Air Force fleet before eventually replacing it
According to the latest data from the US Air Force the actual letterthe B-21 average cost is $639 million in FY19 dollars.
Richard Aboulafia, Teal Group vice president and analyst, told Military.com that “there was always some doubt about [the final cost of the planes]”, adding that these figures refer only to the purchase price and not to ancillary goods.
The B-21 Raider force will be based at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, according to a news release.
It will have a crew of two, but can also operate without a crew Popular mechanics.
The Air Force will buy at least 100 B-21 Raiders to replace its aging fleet of B-2s and B-1s, but some officials expect the fleet to eventually number 220 bombers — 75 B-52s and 145 B- 21 p.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE B-21 STEALTH BOMBER?
The US Air Force plans to enter service with the aircraft in the mid-2020s.
-The all-black aircraft has a distinctive zig-zag shape and a low profile to make it difficult to spot on radar.
– The bomber was previously known as LRS-B (Long Range Strike Bomber).
– The latest designation, B-21, recognizes the aircraft as the first military bomber of the 21st century.
– It is designed to launch from the continental United States and carry out airstrikes anywhere in the world.
– Despite the fact that the specific capabilities of the new aircraft are kept in strict secrecy, it will probably be equipped with high-tech means of communication.
– It will replace the B-52 bombers, which have been flying for more than half a century
– It will also eventually replace the B-1 bombers when they retire sometime in the 2040s.