America’s newest high-tech nuclear stealth bomber has made its debut after years of secret development.
The B-21 raider, which will be capable of delivering conventional and nuclear weapons around the world using air-to-air and long-range refueling capabilities, is part of the Pentagon’s response to growing concerns over a future conflict with China. .
It is the first new American bomber aircraft in over 30 years.
The bomber was unveiled at an event at US Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, where six planes are already in various stages of assembly.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said: “This is not just another plane.
“It’s the embodiment of America’s resolve to defend the republic we all love… We’ll soon be flying this plane, testing it, and then putting it into production.”
Each plane, which sports a similar flying wing shape to its predecessor, the B-2, is expected to cost around $729.25 million.
The Air Force planned to purchase at least 100 of the aircraft and begin replacing B-1 and B-2 bombers. Almost all aspects of the program are classified.
The plane is part of the Pentagon’s effort to modernize all three legs of its nuclear triad – which includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads – as it transitions from recent counterterrorism campaigns decades to China’s rapid military modernization.
China is on track to have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035.
The Pentagon said this week in its annual China report that Beijing’s gains in hypersonics, cyber warfare and space capabilities present “the most significant and systemic challenge to the national security of the United States and the free and open international system”.
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Deborah Lee James, the Secretary of the Air Force when the Raider contract was announced in 2015, said: “We needed a new bomber for the 21st century that would allow us to deal with much more complicated threats. , like the threats we fear we have. face of the day from China, from Russia”.
Kathy Warden, managing director of Northrop Grumman Corp., which builds the bomber, said the B-21 is “extremely advanced” over the B-2 with advances in computing capabilities and materials used in skins that make it make it “harder to detect”. “.
Several defense analysts say other advances include new ways to control electronic emissions – meaning the bomber could confuse opposing radars and disguise itself as another object.