Not too many technical details are handled about the B-21 Raider bomber. Nor is there a precise and confirmed calendar of what its deployment will be like. Neither one nor the other handicap —or perhaps precisely because of them— have nevertheless prevented the new “jewel” of the US Air Force from becoming a true media phenomenon, capable of raising such a degree of expectation that it is more reminiscent of a star. of rock than a combat plane, no matter how modern and ambitious it may be. And the stealth bomber of sixth generation it certainly is.
Now we can finally get to know him a little better.
A look at the new star bomber. That, neither more nor less, is what the US Air Force has just offered us: a fleeting glimpse of the B-21 Raider, in line with the policy of a dropper dose of information that it has applied up to now, but which allows us at least to get a better idea of what it will be like. This glimpse is offered to us by the US Department of Defense, which through the platform dvidshub.net has shared two new photos of the B-21.
Because they are interesting? Because they help us to appreciate a little better what the new US stealth bomber will be like. The Air Force had already shown it to us in December, during the official launch of the aircraft, held at the facilities of the manufacturer Northrop Grumman Corporation, in California, but that event could only be attended by invitation and it was only reported some photos and a video that allowed to appreciate the ship in a limited way.
The new material released by Defense does not provide a complete perspective either, but at least slips some clues, such as details Popular Mechanics: its flying wing design is similar to that of the bomber Northrop B-2 Spirit and the photographs show its air intakes and various bulges on the back.
The cornerstone of the US fleet. so he referred the Air Force in December to the B-21 Raider, which he described as the future “backbone of the bomber fleet” and with which he will gradually replace the old B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit. “It will provide penetrating, long-range, and survivable attack capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, its allies, and partners,” the Department of Defense stressed in a brief comment published along with the new photographs of the “Raider”.
The B-21 presented at the end of 2022 was, as recognized by the US authorities, one of six test prototypes in production. “It is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades,” stood out then Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin on the new bomber, the first to be unveiled since the long-ago years after the end of the Cold War.
prepared to adapt. Thanks to acts like December and the information that has been pouring out, we know about the B-21 bomber that it will be capable of combining conventional and nuclear ammunition, that it can be adjusted to both manned and unmanned operations, its silhouette is similar to that of the B-2 Spirit and that its creators have designed it so that it can be updated.
“Raider was built with an open system architecture, which makes it highly adaptable,” points the Secretary of Defense. The Air Force’s plans include achieving a final fleet of at least a hundred aircraft, each of them at a cost of 692 million dollars, an investment that —as required in Popular Mechanics— in any case reduces that required by the B-2s.
What calendar is managed? In the official statement that it published in December, after the presentation in California, the Air Force did not provide any date or time frame. “The schedule of the first flight will depend on the data and event, not on the date,” the organization pointed out, briefly, and even went further: “Although the precise date on which the B-21 will enter service is unknown, it is Base decisions have been made. Ellsworth AFB will become the first primary operating base and formal training unit for the B-21.”
In an article published this month in Air & Space Forces Magazine, a monthly publication of the Air & Space Forces Association (AFA), however, the horizon of the B-21 was specified. In a report on the bomber, he includes statements by the Secretary of the Air Force that suggest that flight tests will begin, a priori, at the end of 2023. The objective would be for operational aircraft to be delivered to their first base of operations in the middle of of this decade.
Images: US Air Force
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