The United States Air Force unveiled its new B-21 Raider stealth bomber on Friday. The high-tech aircraft – the US Air Force’s first new bomber model in decades – was presented as part of a lavish staging on the grounds of the Northrop Grumman weapons company in Palmdale, California. The B-21 is intended to gradually replace the aging B-1 and B-2 bombers, which date back to the Cold War era.
Thanks to the latest technology, the B-21 is even harder to spot for enemy radar than other stealth bombers, according to the manufacturer. It can theoretically fly unmanned and fire both conventional and nuclear missiles. The price per bomber will probably be slightly less than 700 million dollars (about 670 million euros). The US Air Force wants to buy at least 100 machines. The first flight is scheduled for next year.
“The B-21 will be the backbone of our future bombers,” said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. The aircraft has the ability to enter the world’s “most competitive risk areas” and threaten any destination worldwide. The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades. And it’s a testament to America’s continued ingenuity, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during the presentation.
Hard to find thanks to the latest technology
Austin praised the B-21’s range—”no other long-range bomber can match its efficiency”—and its durability, saying the aircraft was “designed to be the most serviceable bomber ever built.” “Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into the development of the aircraft. Even the most advanced air defense systems will struggle to detect the B-21 in flight,” he said confidently.
The Raider suffix is a tribute to the so-called Doolittle Raid (the English word raid means attack, note) in World War II. Months after the Japanese surprise attack on the American base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, American bombers led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle counterattacked Tokyo. It was the first American attack on mainland Japan and a symbolic success for the American forces.