New Air Force bomber name draws on historic raid

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (KOTA TV) - We still don’t know exactly what it will look like but at least the Air Force’s next-generation bomber has a name.

Monday, the Air Force announced the new B-21 bomber is called the Raider.

The name should be familiar to the World War II generation as well as most military enthusiasts.

The group that first bombed Japan was called the Doolittle Raiders. The raiders launched their B-25 Mitchell medium bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, striking Tokyo. This caused the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense; as well as boosting morale among Americans and U.S. allies.

While the new bomber has a name, its future has yet to be secured, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, referencing the continuing resolution that limits military funding.

"A short-term (continuing resolution) is manageable; but, let me tell you, a long-term continuing resolution would be very damaging for the Air Force," James said. "(It would) cap the production of the KC-46, prevent us from devoting more funds to developing the B-21 next year, and delay about 50 construction projects."

"We have the oldest aircraft fleet we have ever had, 27 years old on
average," James stressed. "This absolutely needs to be a focus for us."

The B-21 Raider, designed based on a set of requirements that allow the use of existing and mature technology, is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase. The Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in the mid-2020s.