The B-21 Raider, the Air Force’s next stealth bomber, will be unveiled to the public for the first time in early December, Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter said Tuesday.
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. 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.
Last year, the U.S. Air Force released a rendering of the B-21, showing the long-range stealth bomber taking off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it will someday be tested before taking on worldwide operations.
Ellsworth Air Force Base, just outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, was selected last summer as the first installation to receive the aircraft.
„The B-21 is one of the most advanced aircraft to ever be developed,” Rounds said. „We are getting closer to bringing this state-of-the-art platform home to Ellsworth Air Force Base.”
The B-21 is being manufactured by Virginia-based Northrop Grumman. Budget documents show that producing the B-21 will cost around $20 billion through 2027.
How Many Raiders?
The Air Force says its future force structure requires at least 220 bombers. The service plans to retire the B-1B and B-2 bombers, necking down to just the B-21 and the B-52. There are only 76 B-52s.
Primary Function: Nuclear-capable, penetrating strike stealth bomber.
Lead Command: Air Force Global Strike Command
Inventory: Minimum of 100 aircraft
Average Unit Procurement Cost*: $550 million (base year 2010 dollars) /$639 million (base year 2019 dollars)
*Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directed B-21 Average Procurement Unit Cost as a key performance parameter as the best means to control costs.
Munitions: Nuclear and conventional