D.C.: The B-21 Raider, a new stealth bomber that will be a cornerstone of American aviation for the foreseeable future, made its debut on December 3 in Palmdale, California. The B-21’s deep-penetrating capabilities, including its 9,600-kilometer range and 10-ton payload, mean that American forces will be safe from enemy missiles.
The B-21 Raider –
is the first brand-new bomber for the Air Force in almost 30 years, and its manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, has dubbed it “the most advanced combat aircraft ever manufactured.”
In early 2021, Randall Walden, director of the Rapid Capabilities Office, said the B-21 would take to the air in “mid-2022.” In March of that year, he announced that the prototype had been completed and was undergoing outdoor calibration tests. There will be taxi tests and the first flight after that, he said, but he didn’t say when.
Because the B-21 requires an engine and another round of testing outside Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California, plant, the Air Force and industry sources say the service will likely still roll out the first B-21 in the calendar year 2022.
They will replace the B-1 Lancet and B-2 Spirit and join the B-52 as the premier long-range strategic bombers in the United States Air Force.
Bloomberg predicts that it will cost $203 billion over the next 30 years to build and maintain a squadron of 100 B-21s.
The majority of the B-2 fleet is based out of Whiteman AFB in Missouri, with occasional deployments to other countries.
The primary home for the new B-21 will be Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, with Dyess Air Force Base in Texas as a possible backup.
The Air Force revealed the new bomber’s name, “Raider,” in 2016, honouring the courageous Doolittle Raiders who performed a daring bombing mission on Tokyo on April 18, 1942.