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10 Facts About Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider

The B-21 Raider, the first aircraft of the sixth generation in the world.

10 Facts About Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider

The B-21 Raider, the first aircraft of the sixth generation in the world, will be unveiled on December 2 at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California. When it is given to the Air Force, the B-21 will become a visible and adaptable deterrent that will assist national security goals and reassure the country’s allies and partners.

Northrop Grumman to Unveil the B-21 Raider(Opens in a new browser tab)

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The Raider will give the Air Force extended range, excellent survivability, and mission payload flexibility when it comes to delivering America’s resolve. The B-21 can deliver precise strikes anywhere in the world despite the toughest defences. Here are the B-21 Raider’s ten most important characteristics.

Meet the Bell 360, the latest rival to the Sikorsky Raider X.(Opens in a new browser tab)

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1. Sixth Generation. The B-21 Raider benefits from more than three decades of strike and stealth technology. It is the next evolution of the Air Force strategic bomber fleet. Developed with the next generation of stealth technology, advanced networking capabilities and an open systems architecture, the B-21 is optimized for the high-end threat environment. It will play a critical role in helping the Air Force meet its most complex missions.

2. Stealth. Northrop Grumman is continuously advancing technology, employing new manufacturing techniques and materials to ensure the B-21 will defeat the anti-access, area-denial systems it will face.

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3. Backbone of the Fleet. The B-21 Raider forms the backbone of the future for U.S. air power. The B-21 will deliver a new era of capability and flexibility through advanced integration of data, sensors, and weapons. Capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear payloads, the B-21 will be one of the most effective aircraft in the sky, with the ability to use a broad mix of stand-off and direct attack munitions.

4. A Digital Bomber. The B-21 is a digital bomber. 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. Six B-21 Raiders are in various stages of final assembly and test at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Palmdale, California.

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5. Cloud Technology. Northrop Grumman and the Air Force successfully demonstrated the migration of B-21 ground systems data to a cloud environment. This demonstration included the development, deployment and test of B-21 data, including the B-21 digital twin, that will support B-21 operations and sustainment. This robust cloud-based digital infrastructure will result in a more maintainable and sustainable aircraft with lower-cost infrastructure.

6. Open Architecture. To meet the evolving threat environment, the B-21 has been designed from day one for rapid upgradeability. Unlike earlier generation aircraft, the B-21 will not undergo block upgrades. New technology, capabilities and weapons will be seamlessly incorporated through agile software upgrades and built-in hardware flexibility. This will ensure the B-21 Raider can continuously meet the evolving threat head on for decades to come.

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7. A National Team. Since contract award in 2015, Northrop Grumman has assembled a nationwide team to design, test and build the world’s most advanced strike aircraft. The B-21 team includes more than 8,000 people from Northrop Grumman, industry partners and the Air Force. The team consists of more than 400 suppliers across 40 states.

8. Sustainment. Long-term operations and sustainment affordability has been a B-21 program priority from the start. In partnership with the Air Force, our team has made maintainability an equally important requirement to stealth performance to ensure we’re driving more affordable, predictable operations and sustainment outcomes.

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9. Global Reach. The B-21 Raider will be the backbone of the U.S. bomber fleet and pivotal to supporting our nation’s strategic deterrence strategy. In addition to its advanced long-range precision strike capabilities that will afford Combatant Commanders the ability to hold any target, anywhere in the world at risk, it has also been designed as the lead component of a larger family of systems that will deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic attack and multi-domain networking capabilities. In a dynamic global security environment, the B-21 will provide the flexibility and deterrence critical to the security of the U.S. and our allies.

10. Raider. The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the Doolittle Raid of World War II when 80 airmen, led by Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, and 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers set off on a mission that changed the course of World War II. The actions of these 80 volunteers were instrumental in shifting momentum in the Pacific theater. This marked the raid as a catalyst to a multitude of future progress in U.S. air superiority from land or sea. The courageous spirit of the Doolittle Raiders is the inspiration behind the name of the B-21 Raider.

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Fast Fact

  • first aircraft in the world to use the newest 6th-generation technology.
  • The aircraft is capable of being flown both manned and unmanned.
  • To save money, it features a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine similar to the F-35.
  • In service launch of the B-21 is anticipated for 2026 or 2027.
  • It will eventually replace the B-2 Spirit and B-1 Lancer of the Air Force.
  • For the USAF, it will be a long-range, covert intercontinental strategic bomber.
  • It is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional weapons.
  • It is remotely operative and has room for two crew.
  • One B21 Raider could cost as much as $639 million.
  • The USAF intended to purchase about 100 planes.
  • It has a payload capacity of up to 30,000 pounds or 13607.771 kg
  • 150 feet is the length of its wings.
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