The US Air Force’s new B-21 Raider stealth bomber will be unveiled to the public later this year, Republican Senator Mike Rounds (South Dakota) revealed this week.
The politician visited the Northrop Grumman aircraft assembly line in Palmdale (California) on July 15, the only elected official to have access to the stealth jet officially.
“While much of the information I received on my visit is classified, I am pleased to report the B-21 is on time and on budget,” Rounds said this week. “The public can expect the B-21 to be revealed later this year,” he added.
The Raider’s first flight is expected to take place in 2023, after delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The aircraft, in the shape of a flying wing, resembles the B-2 Spirit, the USAF’s first stealth bomber, but it should be a little smaller, according to what experts estimate based on projections released by the Pentagon.
The Air Force intends to have at least 100 B-21s to replace not only the B-2, an expensive aircraft to operate, but also the B-1B. Only the veteran B-52 will remain in service after undergoing a process of revitalization and adoption of new turbofans.
In addition to being more capable than its predecessor, the Raider will be an aircraft prepared to receive technical improvements throughout its useful life. It is also estimated to be much cheaper: the cost of the program through 2027 is estimated at $27 billion. Just as an example, each B-2 cost the United States about $2 billion.
There are currently six bombers in different stages of production.