The B-21 Raider, a high-tech strategic bomber that can carry a nuclear payload and be flown without a crew on board, has been presented by the United States.
The next-generation stealth bomber was unveiled on Friday at the Northrop Grumman plant in California in front of prominent US government representatives.
According to a Northrop Grumman representative, the US Air Force intends to purchase at least 100 B-21 aircraft, each of which costs $700 million.
The new bombers are being unveiled when geopolitical tensions between the US, Russia, and China are at an all-time high due to the conflict in Ukraine and Taiwan’s territorial integrity.
On Wednesday, Russian and Chinese strategic bombers conducted a joint eight-hour patrol over the western Pacific as a sign of their continuing military cooperation.
The mission to strengthen defence ties with Russia was described as “routine” by China’s Defense Ministry.
In order to compete with the B-21, Moscow and Beijing are both presently working on strategic stealth bombers, the nuclear-capable Tupolev PAK DA from Russia and the nuclear-capable Xian H-20 from China.
The B-21 is capable of flying without a pilot, but according to the US Air Force, there hasn’t been a choice to do so. Nevertheless, the aircraft is “provisioned for the potential.”
“The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades,” US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a prepared statement at Friday’s event.
Austin touted the aircraft’s range and superior design. “No other long-range bomber can match its efficiency,” Austin said.
Unveiled today, the B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable, penetrating-strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The B-21 will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21s and B-52s.(U.S. Air Force photo) pic.twitter.com/X6KSU7sy6U
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) December 3, 2022
“Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft,” he said.
“Even the most sophisticated air defence systems will struggle to detect the B-21 in the sky.”
The long-range bomber is anticipated to make its first flight in 2023, according to the aerospace and design firm.
At its plant in California, six of the long-range bombers are in various phases of production and testing.
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