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Pentagon will unveil the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber in the first week of December

Pentagon will unveil the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber in the first week of December

The US Air Force will unveil its next-generation stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, during the first week of December, lifting the secrecy that shrouded the aircraft’s development.

Northrop Grumman and the Air Force confirmed the B-21 unveiling schedule on Tuesday, saying it will offer an “exclusive view” of the plane at the company’s Palmdale, Calif. facility.

The bomber, which will be nuclear-capable, will cost around $639 million per plane, and the Pentagon plans to purchase at least 100 to complement and eventually replace the aging B-2 Spirit.

“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is the product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” Doug Young, director of Northrop Grumman, said in a statement.

Six B-21 test aircraft are in various stages of final assembly at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale plant, with the first test flight scheduled for 2023.

An exact date for the unveiling in early December has yet to be set, and officials say the event will be invite-only.

Last July, the Air Force released the latest photo-realistic concept image of the B-21, which is the most recent rendering available of the aircraft.

Unlike previous bomber concepts, released in 2020, this image has a more defined slat up front and a slanted window for the main cockpit windows.

The larger B-2 has four windows that wrap around the front of the cockpit.

The image also shows the bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it is expected to be tested in the coming years.

The classified aircraft is still under development by the military and is part of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program.

Previously released publicity shots from 2020 show renderings of how the B-21 Raider would appear in hangars at various US bases – here at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota

Previously released publicity shots from 2020 show renderings of how the B-21 Raider would appear in hangars at various US bases – here at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri

It is expected to be in service by 2026 or 2027 and will complement the B-2 Spirit bomber fleets, as well as the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, before eventually replacing them.

“Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and the B-21 is key to that plan,” said Randall Walden, director of the Rapid Capabilities Office of the Air Force. Air Force, in a statement.

The B-21 is expected to undergo testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The B-21 is expected to undergo testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“The built-in Open Systems Architecture functionality on the B-21 makes the bomber effective as the threat environment evolves. This approach to aircraft design puts the nation on the right track to ensure the capability of America’s enduring air power.

All officially released images so far are artistic renderings – no official image of the top secret jet has yet been released.

The first official rendering of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016, but only showed its basic shape.

Renders released in 2020 showed how the B-21 Raider would appear in hangars at various U.S. bases, but again were sketchy.

The last image shows more details of the cockpit design and the nose section. It also offered no sign of the prominent air vents seen in previous renders, which would have been a point of contention during the design phase.

The Raider is named after the Doolittle Raiders – US Army Air Force men who carried out a famous surprise attack on Japan on April 18, 1942 during World War II.

The B-21 Raider will be able to carry nuclear bombs, but will also be able to “employ a wide range of ranged and direct-attack ordnance,” according to the Air Force’s latest fact sheet.

The first official concept art of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016, but only showed its basic form in a very rough rendering

The first official concept art of the B-21 Raider was released in 2016, but only showed its basic form in a very rough rendering

The B-21 Raider will join the B-2 Spirit (pictured) as part of the US Air Force fleet, before eventually replacing it

The B-21 Raider will join the B-2 Spirit (pictured) as part of the US Air Force fleet, before eventually replacing it

According to the latest Air Force fact sheet, the cost of the B-21 has an average cost of $639 million in fiscal year 2019 dollars.

Teal Group vice president and analyst Richard Aboulafia told Military.com “there has always been some doubt about [the final cost of the planes]’, adding that these figures relate only to the purchase price and not the ancillary items.

The B-21 Raider force will be located at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, according to the fact sheet.

It will have a crew of two, but will also be capable of operating without a crew, according to Popular Mechanics.

The Air Force will buy at least 100 of the B-21 Raiders to replace the aging fleet of B-2s and B-1s, but some officials expect the fleet will eventually consist of 220 bombers – 75 B-52 and 145 B-21s.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE B-21 STEALTH BOMBER?

The US Air Force plans to introduce the aircraft in the mid-2020s.

-The all-black plane has a distinctive zigzag shape and a low profile designed to make it difficult to spot on radar.

– The bomber was previously known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B).

– The last name, B-21, recognizes the aircraft as the first military bomber of the 21st century.

– It is designed to be launched from the continental United States and perform airstrikes on any location in the world.

– Although the specific capabilities of the new aircraft are highly secret, it will likely be equipped with high-tech communications equipment.

– It will replace the Air Force’s B-52 bombers, which have been flying for more than half a century

– It will also eventually replace the B-1 bombers, when they retire in the 2040s.

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