(ORDO NEWS) — The B-21 Raider bomber was unveiled at the Northrop Grumman plant in California. The aircraft was produced using stealth technology. It is claimed that this is the world’s first sixth generation bomber, writes WP.
The Pentagon and developer Northrop Grumman unveiled the latest B-21 Raider bomber Saturday. For a long time, this aircraft was surrounded by complete secrecy, and, according to the manufacturer, it should become the basis of American military aviation for many decades to come.
As the B-21 Raider batwing bomber rolled out of the hangar, it was bathed in blue light, music played, and Northrop Grumman employees applauded. The ceremony was held at the Palmdale plant, a heavily guarded government manufacturing facility just north of Los Angeles where top-secret military developments take place.
In a speech at the launch ceremony, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the aircraft is proof of the Department of Defense’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that “strengthen America’s ability to deter aggression today and into the future.”
“50 years of advances in stealth technology” are incorporated into the stealth aircraft, he said, making it difficult for “even the most advanced air defense systems” to detect the B-21 in the sky.
“The B-21 looks impressive,” Austin said. “But what’s under its hull and just the space cladding is even more impressive.”
Austin added that deterrence is at the heart of US defense strategy, and the creation of the B-21 serves as a symbol of it.
“We are making it clear to any potential adversary that the risk and cost of aggression far outweighs any possible gain,” Austin said.
This program is expected to cost a minimum of $80 billion, as the US Air Force is expected to receive at least 100 aircraft. This is the first aircraft of the US military, created on the basis of technology of the sixth generation. It is equipped with artificial intelligence, advanced computer networking and data fusion technologies that help pilots carry out long-range combat missions that require entering and exiting enemy airspace.
The US Air Force is also exploring the possibility of remote control of the B-21, although this will most likely be many years after it first takes to the skies.
A significant part of the B-21 program remains classified, although senior officials of the US Department of Defense and the leaders of the development company are already celebrating its success. Media attending the launch ceremony in Palmdale had to abide by a number of rules, including no cell phones allowed in the viewing area, as well as requirements regarding how photographs of the bomber could be taken.
According to company officials, there are six prototypes of the B-21. The first test flight is expected as early as 2023.
At the moment, the Raider bomber is at the stage of “ground tests”. The US Air Force and Northrop Grumman experts are conducting load tests, evaluating the quality of the anti-radar coating and carefully studying the main functions, such as taxiing, as reported by representatives of the developer.
The program employs more than 8,000 people in total, and aircraft parts are manufactured in 40 states.
The Pentagon expects the Raider to replace the aging B-2 Spirit and B-1B Lancer bombers. He plans to phase out older aircraft by the 2040s. In the coming years, the B-21 may also replace the decades-old B-52 bombers. At the presentation ceremony of the B-21, a demonstration was arranged, in which all three aging bombers made overflights.
Until 2006, the US Department of Defense believed that it could hold out on the existing bomber fleet until 2037.
But in the next decade, the Pentagon began to look for and develop alternatives, and in 2014 he announced a competition for a new long-range bomber.
For many years, the US military has faced problems and costly delays in the development of other major weapons systems, including the F-35 multi-role fighter, which is likely to operate in conjunction with the B-21 in future combat operations.
During a panel discussion with journalists, representatives of the US Air Force and the developer company said that the program still meets all cost requirements, although the cost per aircraft continues to grow. In 2010, the Pentagon reported that. He hopes each plane will cost about $550 million. By 2019, the price has risen to $639 million, according to a Congressional Research Office report released last year, and is expected to continue rising.
Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown told reporters in Palmdale that the development of the B-21 was the result of a collaboration between the US military and Northrop Grumman. He noted that the name “Raider” was a tribute to the Doolittle Raiders, the US military who launched a long and daring bombing raid on Japan in April 1942, just months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor left the United States embroiled in World War II.
“The result of this spirit of innovation is now right on us,” said General Brown, speaking in the hangar before the presentation of the B-21, when the bomber was still under the canopy.
Northrop Grumman chief executive Kathy Warden said the company reviewed thousands of aircraft options before finally choosing one design. Part of the testing and development process takes place digitally before the company builds actual hardware samples, as this reduces costs.
“In many ways, we’re taking technology from the future and bringing it to life here and now on this aircraft,” Worden said.
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