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First stealth bomber unveiled in 30 years: Discover fascinating facts about B-21 Raider

Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) revealed the first B-21 ‘Raider’ long-range stealth nuclear bomber for the US Air Force on Friday. The public first saw the B-21 at a spectacular ceremony at Northrop’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The B-21 will have the range and in-flight refuelling capability to deploy conventional and nuclear missiles anywhere in the world thanks to its ‘flying wing’ design, which is similar to that of the B-2.

Each aircraft was expected to cost around $550 million in 2010, which is equivalent to more than $750 million in today’s currency after accounting for the impacts of inflation. With a fleet of at least 100 of these aircraft, the US Air Force wanted to replace its outdated B-1 and B-2 bombers.

In 2015, Northrop won the competition to build the bomber, defeating Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT.N). Pratt & Whitney (RTX.N), Collins Aerospace (CA), GKN Aerospace (GKN), BAE Systems (BAES.L), and Spirit Aerosystems are a few of the more than 400 suppliers spread over 40 states (SPR.N).

The plane is categorised as a sixth-generation fighter jet by Northrop due to its modular construction and ability to communicate with other aircraft. According to Doug Young, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems’ aerospace systems division, the B-21’s low visible surface material is more durable and stealth-enabling, which results in less downtime, cheaper operating costs, and less maintenance requirements.

The presentation featured the debut of the new bomber’s images and video. Conceptual art was only used in earlier publications. For a first flight scheduled for the middle of 2023, six of the aircraft are currently being assembled. Over 8,000 people are currently employed to work on the programme by Northrop Grumman, its business partners, and the Air Force.

What is brand-new with the B-21 Raider?
The B-21 has other advantages than stealth, which is nevertheless very essential. The Air Force and the rest of the US military have been hard at work creating a robust, decentralised network of long-range sensors and assault platforms that can broadcast and share vast amounts of data in order to better understand and fight their enemies.

Because it can both scout a region for potential threats and launch an attack once enough information has been gathered, the B-21 is a good fit for this new strategic network. It is therefore both a defensive weapon that can destroy anything in its path and an offensive weapon that can gather and transmit data to allies’ aircraft, satellites, radars, and other devices.

The B-21 bomber’s primary purpose is long-range assaults, but it will also be able to gather and communicate data to direct its own fleet of weapons, enhancing their efficacy and enabling them to simultaneously destroy several targets. The ‘brain’ of the aeroplane is its most valuable asset, and since open-source software allows for simple changes, it is adaptable to new technologies and has a long lifespan.

The aircraft may be flown with or without people on board, and thanks to its internal weapon bays, it will be able to carry both conventional and nuclear weapons as well as the most advanced long-range stealth missiles, including the JASSM (Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile).



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