The Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber has had more details revealed. Two photographs of the aircraft, recorded on November 28, 2022 (six days before the official presentation of the aircraft), were released by the United States Air Force (USAF) on Tuesday.
One of the images (in the highlight), taken from an elevated point of view, provides a broader view of the wings and the upper part of the aircraft’s fuselage, which follows the same “W” shape as the Northrop B-2 Spirit, but with a more tapered design.
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This same photograph also shows in greater detail the narrow air intakes of the B-21’s engines, perhaps suggesting a new technique for reducing the sixth-generation bomber’s radar signature.
In the second photo (below), there is little news. Below the nose of the plane, it is possible to notice the new Northrop Grumman logo – which is a kind of combination of the manufacturers’ logos when they still operated separately. Another detail, although barely visible, is the USAF insignia stamped on both sides of the fuselage.
Bomber of the future
After nearly 10 years of mystery, Northrop Grumman rolled out the B-21 Raider on December 3, 2022.
The aircraft’s presentation took place at the USAF’s “Plant 42” in Palmdale, California, the same location as the debut of the B-2 Spirit, in 1988. The inaugural flight of the new bomber is scheduled for this year.
The Raider is designed to replace the USAF’s Rockwell B-1 Lancer and B-2 bombers over the next decade, incorporating missions currently performed by both aircraft.
Another bomber in the US strategic fleet, the B-52 Stratofortress will continue to operate alongside the modern B-21 until mid-2050, when it will be close to the 100th anniversary of its first flight.
The USAF plans to purchase at least 100 B-21s over the life of the program, which is expected to extend beyond 2050.
The price of each Raider bomber is around $692 million, a sum that includes the bomber itself, crew training, spare parts and support equipment.
That’s an exorbitant figure, but it represents only a fraction of the value of the B-2, the most expensive plane ever, valued at about $2 billion per aircraft.