Air Force, Northrop Grumman roll out B-21 Raider
Ellsworth AFB will be the first home for this sixth-generation bomber
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - America’s first new bomber in 30 years rolls out of its hangar at Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., around 6 p.m. Mountain time, Friday.
Until it is unveiled, the only images the public has seen of the B-21 Raider was an artist’s drawing, or a shrouded bomber in a hangar.
As for the B-21′s capabilities, a lot has been promised of this sixth-generation bomber. Northrop Grumman claims that the B-21 is “the next evolution of the Air Force strategic bomber fleet.”
The B-21 will take on a dual role, conventional as well as nuclear and as more of them come off the assembly line it will become the main Air Force bomber. It is also capable of being manned or flown remotely, delivering a mixture of stand-off and direct-attack munitions.
Looking to the future, the B-21 is reportedly designed to make upgrades to keep pace with the ever-changing combat environment.
Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the first main operating base for the bomber, as well as the location for the formal training unit. Dyess AFB, Texas; and Whiteman AFB, Mo., are the other two bases that will have operational B-21 units.
The Air Force wants to have some B-21s in service 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.
After the unveiling, the B-21 will undergo extensive ground tests before taking its first flight sometime in 2023. There are reportedly six B-21s currently in production.
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