Military

Meet the US Air Force's new long-range strategic bomber – the B-21 Raider

Meet the US Air Force's new lo...
Artist's concept of the newly named B-21 Raider
Artist's concept of the newly named B-21 Raider
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Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announces the name of the Air Force's newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, with the help of retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole, one of the Doolittle Raiders, and Technical Sargent Derek White
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Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announces the name of the Air Force's newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, with the help of retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole, one of the Doolittle Raiders, and Technical Sargent Derek White
Artist's concept of the newly named B-21 Raider
2/2
Artist's concept of the newly named B-21 Raider

At the Air Force Association's Air, Space, and Cyber Conference at National Harbor, Maryland, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has christened the US Air Force's next generation Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) the "B-21 Raider." Formally designated the B-21 earlier this year to reflect the aircraft's status as the first bomber of the 21st century, the addition of "Raider" refers to the famous Doolittle Raiders of World War II and was selected from 2,100 unique submissions.

In attendance at the announcement was retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Cole, the last surviving crewmember of the Doolittle Raid (aka the Tokyo Raid) against Japan on April 18, 1942. In this action, sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers lifted off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and flew without fighter escort to drop bombs on the Japanese home islands before carrying on to land in China and the Soviet Union.

Though the bombs had very little impact, the raid was a strong morale booster for Allied forces and forced the Japanese to reinforce home defenses – especially when President Roosevelt implied that the Doolittle raiders took off from a secret base in "Shangri-La."

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announces the name of the Air Force's newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, with the help of retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole, one of the Doolittle Raiders, and Technical Sargent Derek White
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announces the name of the Air Force's newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, with the help of retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole, one of the Doolittle Raiders, and Technical Sargent Derek White

The B-21 Raider

Scheduled to enter service in the mid-2020s, the Raider will be able to take off from the continental United States and strike targets anywhere on Earth. It's intended to replace the Air Force's aging fleets of B-1, B-2, and B-52 strategic bombers, which, according to James, have an average age of 27 years.

Built by Northrop Grumman under an initial US$21.4 billion development contract, the Raider carries nuclear and heavy conventional payloads and can counter next-generation anti-aircraft systems. Under current plans, 80 to 100 raiders will be built though the 2040s in five tranches of 21 aircraft at an estimated cost of US$511 million each. To reduce costs, it will use existing technology where possible.

Though its specifications are still highly classified, the Raider is expected to be able to handle strategic bombing, tactical bombing, and global strike, surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, and electronic attack. However, in an interview with Defensetech, General Robin Rand, commander of AFGSC, denied rumors that the B-21 will be man-optional, citing the aircraft's dual conventional/nuclear capabilities and his personal desire to keep a "man in the loop." However, the bomber could operate with unmanned systems.

Source: US Air Force

9 comments
Future3000
All I see is the next taxpayers trillion dollar grave! Remember: - B2 costs: 4 times higher as estimated. - F 22: around half trillion US$ (3 times higher as estimated). - Zumwalt: around quarter trillion (for all) US$ (6 times higher as estimated). - F 35: around 1.5 trillion US$ (3 times higher as estimated). "80 to 100 raiders will be built though the 2040s in five tranches of 21 aircraft at an estimated cost of US$511 million each" = 51.1 billion US$ + 21.4 billion $ will be around 1 trillion US$, not 72,5 billion US$, I guess! Nobody needs this B 21, but stealing taxpayers money to give it to big (private) companies is a proper business model! You can't hide such a big B 21 to modern graviton surveillance. So you can attack only 2nd and 3rd world countries. Germans and Russians will detect it, probably Chinese too! So a pre informed Russian Panzir-S1 AA rocket (costs around 600.000 US$) will bring down a B 21 (worth 51.000.000.000 US$) easily, because B 21 radar section is 20-50 times bigger than needed! What a waste of money! Spend it better to your peoples education!
YuraG
@ Future3000 - $511 million is $511.000.000, your 51.000.000.000 is about 100 times more. I agree, Yankees can afford any scary stuff till China, Russia and so on invest in the US treasuries.
beergas
It's certainly is a paper beast so far with a fat charge to go with it. One issue is the large scale, tactical blunder made by Japan pre WW II. They committed to Zero while dead foot, but head smart US was able to play catch up/improved game. US planes and carriers had advantage of pegging their abilities to account for the known good/bad qualities of the opponent. This giant could be a Zero. But a country can't refuse to build a set of WTC units just because there's a possibility they could be knocked down. Without grabbing risk the caves would be damn crowded by now.
ljaques
I'm an Air Force brat, and even I am not in favor of the new bombers. Wouldn't a Galaxy load of smaller drones and cruise missiles be a better use of much less money?
mhpr262
An estimated cost of a mere $511 million apiece .... suuure it is, no way that will end up costing a bit more at the end of the day.
LaurencePotgieter
is there someone in your country who can get it across to the taxpayer that this is how their money is being spent? it does not seem that way. i think the elite, which is a pretty strange term for those scumbags, have such control over everything, that the man in the street has no idea of why his salary cannot keep up; nor where his tax money goes; nor why the economic indicators always look good and yet he has several friends now unemployed. can someone explain to this man that his money is being spent on arms and ammunition for the next new enemy to be added to the long list of enemies.... which is why you now need new bombers, rockets, missiles, tanks, submarines, aircraft carriers, attack helicopters, fighter jets .... the list goes on and on ....
rondo
BLAH BLAH BLAH.......Do you people forget who else is on this block we all live on? north korea, russia, red china, etc, etc. They copy, emulate, build weapons at an alarming rate. Have you never heard of having the biggest, baddest stick on the block or you get your brains beat out. Are you not looking around at the world we live in? This isn't Vacation BiBle school. BUILD ON US !
JoeFrederick
A TRILLION dollars each! And what do we get that we don't already have with our satellites and Minutemen and Tridents and Warthogs and F-14s, 15s, 16s, and 18s and B-1s, B-2s, and B-52s? Nothing!
LaurencePotgieter
Rondo, making friends is cheaper, simpler and safer.