Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Air Force unveiled the B-21 Raider stealth bomber to the world last month, but at a cost of $692 million for each aircraft, the program is expected to cost United States taxpayers $203 billion over the next three decades.
Military officials and aerospace company executives unveiled the newest aircraft in the U.S. fleet on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in a ceremony webcast live online from the Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The celebrating warlords claim B-21 joins the nuclear triad as a visible and flexible deterrent designed for the U.S. Air Force to meet its most complex missions, including the use of weapons that haven’t been invented yet.
Six B-21 Raiders are in various stages of final assembly and testing at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Palmdale, California.
The new bomber, built by Northrop Grumman, will be the backbone of the Air Force’s bomber fleet once it enters service in a few years. It will also offer the first look at what are sure to be next-generation aerospace capabilities that will likely become commonplace in decades to come.
“The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. “It is a testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation. And it’s proof of the Department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future.”
“The Northrop Grumman team develops and delivers technology that advances science, looks into the future and brings it to the here and now,” said Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden. “The B-21 Raider defines a new era in technology and strengthens America’s role of delivering peace through deterrence.”
The officials claim B-21 Raider forms the backbone of the future for U.S. air power, leading a powerful family of systems that deliver a new era of capability and flexibility through advanced integration of data, sensors and weapons. Its sixth-generation capabilities include stealth, information advantage and open architecture.
“The B-21 Raider is a testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation. And it’s proof of the Department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future. Now, strengthening and sustaining U.S. deterrence is at the heart of our National Defense Strategy,” said Austin. “This bomber was built on a foundation of strong, bipartisan support in Congress. And because of that support, we will soon fly this aircraft, test it and then move into production.”
The B-21 is capable of networking across the battlespace to multiple systems, and into all domains. Supported by a digital ecosystem throughout its lifecycle, the B-21 can quickly evolve through rapid technology upgrades that provide new capabilities to outpace future threats.
“With the B-21, the U.S. Air Force will be able to deter or defeat threats anywhere in the world,” said Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “The B-21 exemplifies how Northrop Grumman is leading the industry in digital transformation and digital engineering, ultimately delivering more value to our customers.”
The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the Doolittle Raids of World War II when 80 men, led by Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, and 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers set off on a mission that changed the course of World War II. The designation B-21 recognizes the Raider as the first bomber of the 21st century.
Three strategic bombers in the U.S. Air Force fleet as of 2022 are the Rockwell B-1 Lancer, the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.
Twenty B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers are in service with the United States Air Force, which plans to operate them until 2032, when the B-21 Raider is set to replace them. As of 2021 the Air Force has 45 B-1Bs, which are planned to be retired by 2036. The last 76 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress airplanes are expected to serve into the 2050s