US Air Force unveils new nuclear stealth bomber
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Featured Image Credit: Northrop Grumman/U.S. AIR FORCE
The 'world's first sixth-generation aircraft' has been developed for the US by defence technology company Northrop Grumman.
On Friday, 2 December, the US Air Force and Northrop Grumman held a ceremony to showcase the first new bomber plane to be built in the country in over three decades.
Developed for the US military, the nuclear stealth bomber has been branded the 'future of deterrence'.
During the ceremony - attended by Northrop Grumman employees, military personnel and Palmdale, California Air Force officials - the new bomber was unveiled under the name 'the B-21 Raider'.
Defence Lloyd Austin said it's set to give the US military 'an edge that will last for decades to come,' helping to facilitate a 'full spectrum of operations'.
Northrop Grumman was applauded by Austin 'for getting this big job done' - the governmental official resolving the ceremony marked a 'proud day for the United States Airforce and our country'.
.@SecDef: [The @USAirForce’s B-21 Raider is] proof of the Department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future. pic.twitter.com/93ahmw90Ar— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) December 3, 2022
On its website, Northrop Grumman states the B-21 Raider is 'standing by, silent and ready' to help deliver 'America's resolve'.
"We are providing America’s warfighters with an advanced aircraft offering a combination of range, payload, and survivability.
"The B-21 Raider will be capable of penetrating the toughest defenses to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world. "The B-21 is the future of deterrence," the description continues.
The B-21 Raider is reportedly replacing a black nuclear stealth bomber called the B-2 Spirit.
The upgrade is thought to have been spurred on by China's increasing nuclear weapon development - this year's China report by the Pentagon calling such development 'the most consequential and systemic challenge to US national security and the free and open international system'.
Former Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James reflected: "We needed a new bomber for the 21st Century that would allow us to take on much more complicated threats, like the threats that we fear we would one day face from China, Russia.
"The B-21 is more survivable and can take on these much more difficult threats."
Northrop Grumman are currently producing six more B-21 Raiders, however, a total of at least 100 are set to be made.
The planes can be used with or without a crew on board and will be used by the Air Force to deploy typical bombs or nuclear weaponry.
The total cost to create 100 of the new bombs has yet to be publicly ascertained.
However, in 2010, the average cost per aircraft was revealed by the Air Force as being $550 million (£460 million) - worth around $753 million (£640 million) in 2022.
The high cost per B-21 Raider could result in the schedule of producing 100 of the bombers to 'slip' according to senior defence policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, Dan Grazier.
So far, the B-21 Raider has been tested using a virtual double, but the bomber itself is yet to take to the skies.
It's anticipated to go on its first flight in 2023.
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