The U.S. Air Force confirmed October 20 it plans to reveal the B-21 Raider December 2 during an unveiling ceremony hosted and sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation at its production facilities in Palmdale, Calif.
The B-21 is a long-range, highly survivable, penetrating strike stealth bomber that will incrementally replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers, becoming the backbone of the U.S. Air Force bomber fleet.
"The unveiling of the B-21 Raider will be a historic moment for our Air Force and the nation," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. "We last introduced a new bomber over 30 years ago. As we look to the threats posed by our pacing challenge; we must continue to rapidly modernize. The B-21 Raider will provide formidable combat capability across a range of operations in highly contested environments of the future."
The Department of the Air Force is investing in the aircraft’s long-range strike capability as part of its seven Operational Imperatives as it develops the advanced communications, sensors and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems needed to deter our adversaries and prevail in combat.
We must invest in long-range strike in a highly contested environment by integrating the B-21 bomber with advanced communications, sensors and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems.
After unveiling, the B-21 program will continue its rigorous testing campaign with a combined team of professionals from the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Northrop Grumman. Their work will verify performance and identify areas for improvement for the weapon system.
"The B-21 program is a powerful example of America's long experience with fielding advanced military technology through an innovative, adaptable and efficient defense industrial base," said Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. "The Air Force made the decision early in the life of the program to make the flight test aircraft production representative, which is paying dividends as we look towards first flight."
The B-21 weapon system is manufactured under the Air Force's contract with Northrop Grumman. It is designed with an open systems architecture, enabling rapid insertion of mature technologies, and allowing the aircraft to remain effective as threats evolve over time.