The US Air Force (USAF) shared a new image of its next-generation Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider. According to defense experts, this is part of the US’ efforts to combat the rising threats from China and Russia.
Even though the artist’s rendering does not reveal much about the design of the stealth bomber, the image highlights crucial details about the plane, while also distinguishing it from the older B-2 Spirit.
Northrop Grumman is known to be the primary contractor for the B-21 bomber. It also built the B-2 Spirit, the US’ first bat-wing stealth bomber, Popular Mechanics reported.
The B-21 artwork was revealed by the US Air Force on July 6. “The rendering highlights the future stealth bomber with Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as the backdrop.
Designed to perform long-range conventional and nuclear missions and to operate in the high-end threat environment in the future, the B-21 will be a visible and flexible component of the nuclear triad”, the US Air Force said in a statement.
Additionally, it will be able to employ a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions. The B-21 is being designed with open systems architecture to reduce integration risk and enable competition for future modernization efforts to allow for the aircraft to evolve as the threat environment changes.
After completing the Environmental Impact Statement process as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory processes, the Air Force named Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota as the first B-21 main operating base and location of the Formal Training Unit.
The Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California will host the B-21 Combined Test Force and the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma is the site for depot planning.
The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the historic Doolittle Raiders, US Army Air Force men who are known for their surprise attack against Japan during World War II on April 18, 1942, which forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, and boosted morale among Americans and allies abroad. The designation B-21 recognizes the Raider as the first bomber of the 21st century.
“Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and B-21 is key to that plan”, Randall Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement.
— B-2 Pilot (@PilotB2) January 15, 2021
“The built-in feature of open systems architecture on the B-21 makes the bomber effective as the threat environment evolves. This aircraft design approach sets the nation on the right path to ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability,” he added.
The next-generation stealthy B-21 raider bomber is set to replace both B-1 and B-2 but not the B-52, which has been in service for more than 60 years. It will fly both on conventional as well as nuclear missions, leaving the B-52 to play the role of a bomb truck or arsenal plane, according to Forbes.
According to the reports, the US Air Force will receive at least 100 B-21s. As only 58 B-52s are left active in service, the new deliveries of the B-21 bomber will make it the most essential strategic aircraft in the arsenal, Forbes added in its report.
Written by Kashish Tandon