(CTN NEWS) – Northrop Grumman – The B-21 Raider, a high-tech strategic bomber that can carry a nuclear payload and be flown without a crew on board, has been presented by the United States.
At a flashy event on Friday, top US officials witnessed the unveiling of the next-generation stealth bomber at the California factory of arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman.
According to a Northrop Grumman official, the US Air Force intends to purchase at least 100 of the $700 million per aircraft B-21 aircraft.
The new bombers' introduction coincides with increased regional tensions between the US, Russia, and China over the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan and the conflict in Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attends the unveiling of Northrop Grumman's B-21 Raider, a new high-tech stealth bomber developed for the U.S. Air Force, during an event in Palmdale, California, U.S., December 2, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson
As result of continuous military cooperation between the two, Chinese and Russian strategic bombers undertook an eight-hour patrol together on Wednesday over the western Pacific.
The mission to strengthen defence ties with Russia was described as "routine" by China's Defense Ministry.
Beijing and Moscow are both actively working on strategic stealth bombers that are intended to compete with the B-21. China's Xian H-20 and Russia's nuclear-capable Tupolev PAK DA.
Although the B-21 may fly without a captain, the US Air Force stated that no decision to do so has been made. However, the aircraft is "provided for the potential."
Unveiled today, the B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable, penetrating-strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The B-21 will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21s and B-52s.(U.S. Air Force photo) pic.twitter.com/X6KSU7sy6U
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) December 3, 2022
In a prepared statement read at the event on Friday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin remarked, "The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more over three decades."
Austin praised the plane's superb design and wide operating range.
"There is no other long-range bomber that can match its efficiency," Austin said. He said that "this aircraft was the result of fifty years of improvements in low-observable technology."
"Even the most advanced air defence systems will have difficulty spotting the B-21 in the skies."
The B-21, which resembles its predecessor in appearance, has the range and midair refuelling capability to transport conventional and nuclear bombs all over the world.
Northrop Grumman unveils the B-21 Raider, a new high-tech stealth bomber developed for the U.S. Air Force, during an event in Palmdale, California, U.S., December 2, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson
The new aircrafts have been lauded as "the backbone of our future bomber force" by Northrop Grumman.
A Reuters interview with Doug Young, sector vice president and general manager at Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems.
Revealed that the B-21 features durable, stealth-enabling low observability surfaces, which will require less maintenance and reduce operational costs.
The long-range bomber's first flight is scheduled for 2023 , according to the aerospace and design firm. At its plant in California, six of the long-range bombers are in various phases of production and testing.
The program currently employs more than 8,000 people from Northrop Grumman, industry partners, and the Air Force.
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