The United States military has unveiled the B-21 Raider, the country’s first new stealth bomber in 30 years. Northrop Grumman, the aircraft’s developer, initially showed us a silhouette of the plane shrouded by a shroud in 2015. The Pentagon officially unveiled the B-21 at an event at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Palmdale, California, but most of its specifications remain unknown. Prior to the event, the company referred to it as the “world’s first sixth-generation aircraft,” implying that it is far more technologically advanced than current military jets.
According to ABC News, at the occasion, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that “no other long-range bomber can equal [the B-21’s] effectiveness.” Austin further stated that the aircraft incorporates “fifty years of breakthroughs in low observable technology” and that even the most modern air defense systems will have difficulty spotting a B-21 in the skies.
Northrop Grumman previously said that the aircraft was constructed with next-generation stealth technology to stay invisible even to sophisticated radars and air defense systems. According to Air and Space Forces Magazine, a Northrop Grumman source also stated that the B-21 can fly in full stealth mode every day, unlike the present type, which requires hundreds of hours of maintenance between missions. The aircraft will use a cloud-based digital infrastructure that will be less expensive and easier to maintain, and the military will be able to roll out rapid upgrades for individual components to ensure that it is always protected against evolving threats.
Northrop Grumman is currently working on six B-21 units in various stages of development, but the Air Force is expected to order at least 100. The military will begin testing the stealth bomber in California early next year, with the first units entering service in the mid-2020s.
— Northrop Grumman (@northropgrumman) December 3, 2022