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US Air Force releases new B-21 Raider rendering

B-21 Raider
An artist rendering of a B-21 Raider. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force has released a new B-21 Raider artist rendering showing the aircraft with Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as the backdrop.

The new rendering highlights the future stealth bomber with Edwards Air Force Base because the 420th Flight Test Squadron based at Edwards AFB will plan, test, analyze and report on all flight and ground testing of the B-21 Raider.

The B-21 program continues to execute the engineering and manufacturing development phase and is focused on scaling the manufacturing infrastructure and capacity across the industrial supply base to prepare for low rate initial production. A critical design review conducted in 2018 concluded the aircraft has a mature and stable design.

Designed to perform long range conventional and nuclear missions and to operate in high end threat environments, the B-21 will be a new component of the nuclear triad.

“Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and B-21 is key to that plan,” said Randall Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director. “The built-in feature of open systems architecture on the B-21 makes the bomber effective as the threat environment evolves. This aircraft design approach sets the nation on the right path to ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.”

The B-21 Raider will be a strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. It will be a component of a larger family of systems for conventional long range strike, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic attack, communication and other capabilities. It will be nuclear capable and designed to accommodate manned or unmanned operations.

The Air Force awarded the B-21 engineering and manufacturing development contract to Northrop Grumman on October 27, 2015. Northrop Grumman’s partners on the B-21 program include Pratt & Whitney, Janicki Industries, Collins Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, BAE Systems and Spirit Aerosystems.

The Air Force plans to incrementally replace the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit bombers to form a two-bomber fleet of B-21s and modified B-52s. The B-21 program is on track to deliver B-21s to the first operational base, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, in the mid-2020s.

Until the B-21s reach full operational capacity, the B-1 Lancers will simultaneously continue their mission at Ellsworth.