Northrop B-21 Raider numbered 001 unveiling is Friday

The first of this generation of bombers will bed down at Ellsworth Air Force Base
B-21 Raider to be unveiled Friday, Dec. 2.
B-21 Raider to be unveiled Friday, Dec. 2.(Credit: Northrop Grumman)
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 1:06 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Finally, the public will get a glimpse of what Northrop Grumman consider the sixth-generation American bomber, the B-21 Raider.

The first B-21, numbered 001, will be unveiled at the company’s site in Palmdale, Calif., Friday afternoon. However, the first flight of the new bomber isn’t expected until sometime next year.

Six of the bomber test aircraft are in various stages of final assembly in Palmdale, according to Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman claims the B-21 Raider can penetrate enemy air defenses, reaching targets anywhere in the world — “something approximately 90 percent of the nation’s current bomber fleet is incapable of doing.”

Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the first installation to bed down the new bomber. The change in mission could bring about 1,500 more airmen and their families to the area, adding an estimated $20 million to the economy.

About 100 B-21s could be produced at a cost of $550 million each. Over time, the B-21 will replace the B-1s at not only Ellsworth but also Dyess AFB, Texas; and the B-2s at Whiteman AFB, Mo.

The Air Force wants to have some B-21s in service sometime during the mid-2020s; with planned full retirement of B-1 and B-2 bombers for 2040. The B-52 is expected to stay in the Air Force inventory for several more decades.

Why name the bomber “Raider”

The B-21 is officially nicknamed the Raider, a name familiar to World War II generations and military enthusiasts.

Remember the Doolittle Raiders? It was the group that first bombed Japan after the U.S. was propelled into the war.

The raiders launched their B-25 Mitchell medium bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, striking Tokyo. This caused the