After seven years of construction behind closed doors by contractor Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Air Force has finally revealed the new B-21 stealth bomber. Northrop unveiled the first B-21 Raider in front of a crowd of hundreds of journalists, employees, and VIPs during a ceremony at the Air Force’s heavily guarded Plant 42 manufacturing site. For several hours, defence officials and business leaders gushed about the wing-shaped aircraft, praising it as the most technologically advanced and essential new tool to confront China.
According to defence analysts, the plane was built to escape Chinese radars and air defence systems while dropping its armament of missiles and bombs to sensitive ground targets before flying back.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, one of many high-ranking defence officials, lawmakers, and business leaders who flew to the California desert on the chilly Friday evening for the rollout, said, “the B-21 looks imposing, but what’s under the frame and the space-aged coatings is even more impressive.”
No other long-range bomber, according to Austin, can match the B-21’s effectiveness. With a great range, it will be able to take off and land anywhere in the world from its base in the United States. He praised the bomber’s stealth capabilities as well. Even the most advanced air defence systems will have difficulty spotting the B-21 in the skies, he said.
According to a prior release from Northrop Grumman, the aircraft was created using next-generation stealth technology to remain invisible even to sophisticated radars and air defence systems. A Northrop Grumman representative also told Air and Space Forces Magazine that the B-21 can fly in full stealth mode every day, unlike the existing aircraft, which requires hundreds of hours of maintenance in between missions. The military can also quickly roll out upgrades for individual components so that the aircraft is always secured against evolving threats. The aircraft will use a cloud-based digital infrastructure that is less expensive and easier to maintain.