Air Force provides sneak peak of new B-21 Raider strategic bomber

FPI / July 18, 2021

The U.S. Air Force has provided a view of what it says will be the “backbone” of its future bomber force.

Artist’s rendering of a B-21 Raider with Edwards Air Force Base, California as the backdrop. / U.S. Air Force

The Air Force last week released an artist’s rendering and fact sheet for the new B-21 Raider strategic bomber.

The B-21, which appears similar in design to the B-2 stealth bomber, with a flying-wing design, will be a dual-capable, nuclear and conventional bomber capable of penetrating advanced enemy air defenses, the Air Force said.

The bomber also will be capable of being flown by pilots or remotely piloted when delivering “a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions.”

“The B-21 will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21s and B-52s,” the fact sheet said. “Designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.”

A fleet of 100 new bombers are being built by Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Janicki Industries, Collins Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, BAE Systems and Spirit Aerosystems, with initial deployment in the mid-2020s. Unit cost for each bomber is estimated to be $639 million.

The Air Force’s fleet of B-2s and B-1s are scheduled to retire in the early-to-mid 2030s. The B-52 Stratofortress, meanwhile, will be upgraded to fly into the 2050s.

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