B-21 Stealth Bomber: On Friday, the Pentagon and defence contractor Northrop Grumman revealed the United States military’s bomber of the future, an aircraft that has been shrouded in secrecy for years and will remain a pillar of the Air Force’s combat operations for decades to come.
Northrop Grumman employees rejoiced as the B-21 Raider, with its distinctive batwing design, was towed forward out of a hangar under a blue light to the sound of dramatic music. Air Force Plant 42 is a strongly guarded government-owned manufacturing complex located north of Los Angeles where some of the military’s most classified work is performed, and here is where the ceremony took place.
Standing in front of the hangar, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the plane exemplifies the department’s dedication to developing cutting-edge capabilities that “will enhance America’s ability to prevent aggression, today and into the future.”
The B-21, he added, is stealthy because it incorporates “50 years of improvements in low-observable technology,” making it difficult for “even the most sophisticated air-defence systems” to spot the jet in the sky.
Austin remarked, “The B-21 certainly presents a menacing appearance.” The real wonder lies beneath the futuristic coatings and sturdy framework. Austin further noted that the foundation of American defence is deterrence, with the B-21 programme serving as a metaphor once again.
The risks and costs of aggressiveness much surpass any imaginable rewards, Austin added. The Air Force needs at least 100 planes, and the programme is anticipated to cost at least $80 billion.
This is the first U.S. military plane to use so-called sixth-generation technology, which includes sophisticated artificial intelligence, computer networking, and data fusion to aid pilots in completing long-range bombing missions that require them to sneak in and out of hostile airspace.
B-21 Stealth Bomber
The Air Force is also looking at the possibility of remotely piloting the B-21, albeit this wouldn’t happen until years after the plane’s initial launch. Senior U.S. defence officials and corporate executives have applauded the program’s success, but many details remain secret.
There were severe limits in place for the media present in Palmdale, including a no-cellphone zone around the event and limitations on how the aircraft could be photographed. The B-21 has been prototyped six times, according to the manufacturer. The first flight is scheduled for the following year.
Northrop Grumman has stated that the Air Force and the company are currently in the “ground test” phase with the Raider, during which time fundamental tasks like taxiing and stress tests are being examined.
Aircraft components are sourced from 40 different states, and the programme employs over 8,000 workers. The Pentagon hopes to use the Raider to phase out the older B-2 Spirit and B-1B Lancer bombers by the 2040s.
Similarly, ageing B-52 bombers may be phased out in favour of the B-21 during the next few years. All three of the vintage bombers performed flyovers at Friday’s unveiling ceremony. Before 2006, Pentagon officials estimated that their current fleet of bombers would last until 2037. However, the Pentagon started looking into alternate options and held a contract competition for a new long-range bomber in 2014.
Other important weapons systems, including the upgraded F-35 fighter that would likely be partnered with the B-21 in future operations, have been plagued by costly issues and delays for years in the U.S. military.
Officials from the Air Force and the firm stated in a panel meeting with reporters on Friday that the initiative is still under budget, despite the fact that the cost per copy has been steadily climbing. Each plane, the service project in 2010, would cost around $550 million.
The B-21 will collect intelligence and conduct battle management missions in addition to its primary role as a bomber, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. Read more about tonight’s rollout here https://t.co/oe5wAymZJ5 pic.twitter.com/InI1pIffpa
— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) December 3, 2022
According to a report from the Congressional Research Service published last year, the price had climbed to $639 million by 2019 and was just going to keep going up from there. In Palmdale, Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles “CQ” Brown said that the Air Force and Northrop Grumman worked together to create the B-21.
Just pulled into the gate in Seattle. Anything good on TV? https://t.co/w5pOBxD4ct
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) December 3, 2022
He explained that the Raider moniker was chosen to honour the U.S. servicemen who, in April 1942, only months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii brought the United States into World War II, flew a long, daring bombing raid into Japan.
I just saw the B-21 roll out of this hanger. Unfortunately I don’t have photos for you yet as my phone has been locked up pic.twitter.com/elETqcfVnD
— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) December 3, 2022
Speaking in the hangar before the unveiling ceremony, Brown remarked, “That inventive energy is sitting behind us right now.” The B-21 was still draped in a cloak. On Friday, Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden said that the business went through thousands of prototypes of the plane before settling on a design.
— Dr. Malcolm Davis (@Dr_M_Davis) December 3, 2022
To keep costs down, the company does some of its research and development digitally before it ever manufactures hardware. Warden said that the plane represented a convergence of future and present technologies.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the b21 Raider?
The B-21 Raider, the Air Force’s newest stealth bomber plane, made its public debut on Friday in Palmdale, California. The bomber, made by Northrop Grumman, was given the name “Doolittle” to honour the “courageous spirit” of the pilots who participated in the daring World War II mission.
Where was the B 21 Raider built?
The first two B-21s are currently being assembled at Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, according to testimony given by Darlene Costello, acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, at a Congressional hearing on June 8, 2021. Six B-21s were being built by the end of February 2022.
How many B 21 will be built?
The Air Force aims to develop 100 B-21 Raiders, which can be operated with or without a human crew and can drop either nuclear or conventional bombs.
How is the B 21 different from the B 2?
Northrop Grumman claims that the B-21 will have more flexibility and capability integration compared to the B-2. Austin made this point at the event, explaining that in the future, the bomber may transport weapons that have not yet been created.
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