Air Force reveals new pictures of classified $600M B-21 bomber

Air Force reveals new pictures of its classified $600 million B-21 Raider stealth bomber which is set to enter service in next five years

  • The US Air Force unveiled a new artist rendering of B-21 Raider stealth bomber
  • The Northrop Grumman built plane has a sleeker profile than the B-2 Spirit 
  • It will have nuclear capabilities, but will also offer ‘a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions’ 
  • The B-21 Spirit is expected to be in service by 2026 or 2027 at a cost of approx. $670 million per plane
  • It will have a two-person crew, but also be capable of uncrewed operations 
  • The US Air Force unveiled a new artist rendering image of its B-21 Raider stealth bomber, one that will cost the military more than $600 million per plane. 

    The release shows the Northrop Grumman built plane with a sleeker profile than its larger predecessor, the B-2 Spirit, according to Military.com.      

    Unlike previous concepts of the bomber, which were released in 2020, this image has a more defined beak at the front and a slanted window for the main cockpit windows.

    The larger B-2 has four windows that go around the front of the cockpit.

    The image also shows the bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it is expected to receive testing in the coming years. 

    The US Air Force unveiled a new artist rendering image of its B-21 Raider stealth bomber, one that will cost the military more than $600 million per plane.

    The US Air Force unveiled a new artist rendering image of its B-21 Raider stealth bomber, one that will cost the military more than $600 million per plane.

    The image also shows the bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it is expected to receive testing in the coming years

    The image also shows the bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it is expected to receive testing in the coming years

    The classified plane is still under development by the military and is part of the Long Range Strike Bomber program (LRS-B).

    It is expected to be in service by 2026 or 2027 and will complement the B-2 Spirit, as well as the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber fleets, before eventually replacing both of them.

    The B-21 Raider will join the B-2 Spirit (pictured) as part of the US Air Force's fleet, before eventually replacing it

    The B-21 Raider will join the B-2 Spirit (pictured) as part of the US Air Force’s fleet, before eventually replacing it

    ‘Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and B-21 is key to that plan,’ said Randall Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director, in a statement

    ‘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.’ 

    The first official image of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016. 

    The B-21 Raider will also be able to ’employ a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions,’ according to the latest fact sheet from the Air Force. 

    According to the US Air Force’s latest fact sheet, the B-21 cost has an average cost of $639 million, or $673 million to account for inflation.

    Richard Aboulafia, vice president and analyst at the Teal Group, told Military.com ‘there’s always been a degree of doubt about [the final cost of the planes],’ adding those figures are just for the purchase price and not ancillary items 

    The B-21 Raider force will be located at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, according to the fact sheet.

    It will have a two-person crew, but also be capable of uncrewed operation, according to Popular Mechanics

    The Air Force will buy at least 100 of the B-21 Raiders to replace the aging fleet of B-2s and B-1s, but some officials expect the fleet will be comprised of 220 bombers – 75 B-52s and 145 B-21s. 

    WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE B-21 STEALTH BOMBER?

    The US Air Force is planning to introduce the aircraft in the mid-2020s.

    -The all-black plane has a distinctive, zigzagging shape and a low profile designed to make it hard to spot on radar.

    – The bomber was previously known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B).

    – The latest name, B-21, recognises the aircraft as the military’s first bomber of the 21st century.

    – It is designed to be launch from continental US and carry out airstrikes on any location in the world.

    – While the new plane’s specific capabilities are highly secret, it likely will be equipped with high-tech communications gear.

    – It will replace Air Force 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. 

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