The US Air Force is scheduled to unveil B-21 Raider on Friday, considered to be the most advanced military aircraft ever built. The US has made the new stealth bomber for the first time in the last thirty years.
Built by Northrop Grumman, the long-range strategic bomber jet will replace the ageing B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft.
The B-21 has been developed with a budget of around $25.1 billion allocated to the US Air Force in 2010. Currently, six more bombers are being built in Palmdale at about $2 billion per aircraft and are expected to be flying next year.
The aircraft will be unveiled at the Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California on Friday.
World’s First Sixth-Generation Aircraft
The first sixth-generation aircraft to be unveiled, the B-21 Raider is designed to carry out long-range bombing and nuclear missions employing cutting-edge stealth technologies.
The fighter, considered future of deterrence, will be capable of penetrating the toughest defenses to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world, the company wrote on its website.
It offers a combination of range, payload, and survivability, the company stated. The B-21, developed with the next generation of stealth technology has advanced networking capabilities and an open systems architecture, making it capable of fighting in high-end threat environment and the most complex missions.
Stealth Fighter Like No Other
The B-21 is capable of gathering and relaying information to friendly aircraft, radars or satellites and can gather and share intelligence.
It will be the backbone of the US bomber fleet and pivotal to supporting the nation’s strategic deterrence strategy. It can be flown both in a manned and unmanned configuration.
“Northrop Grumman uses agile software development, advanced manufacturing techniques and digital engineering tools to help mitigate production risk on the B-21 program and enable modern sustainment practices,” the company said in a statement.
Threat to China?
Though the company claims that the B-21 Raider will penetrate the toughest defenses for precision strikes anywhere in the world, some experts claimed that the aircraft would have a limited impact on China.
China claimed to have deployed a radar which can detect even the stealthiest aircraft. China, which has been US stealth bombers for decades, has now sped up research into building its own Xian H-20 stealth deep-penetration bomber to challenge B-21.
People’s Liberation Army equipment expert Fu Qianshao said it would be difficult for the jet to penetrate China’s defences because it would be intercepted by long-range missiles after being detected, a report in MSN said.
Song Zhongping, a military commentator based in Hong Kong also said that it would not be easy for the fighter to avoid detection by China because “it is also constantly developing anti-stealth capabilities, and there are also a variety of anti-stealth radars”.
Zhongping further said the US has overestimated the B-21’s capability and underestimated China and Russia’s capability.
Similar to Predecessors?
The B-21 Raider has lot of similarities in design from its predecessor, like the flying wing concept with its engines embedded and configured.
The jet’s airframe is smaller than the B-2 and the payload to carry ordinance, bombs and missiles has been almost halved.
However, it is significantly cheaper than the B-2, making it easier to both buy and maintain, a report in Al Jazeera said.
B-2 was very expensive and required a lot of money and man-hours to keep it going. But, the B-21 will significantly lower the toll in money and man-hours, making it easier to buy.
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