The Air Force unveiled its new stealth bomber in Palmdale, California, on Friday.
Created by Northrop Grumman, the B-21 Raider is a sixth-generation aircraft.
The aircraft’s maiden flight is scheduled for 2023, although the timing will depend on the ground test results.
The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber in more than 30 years.
The Air Force unveiled the first new U.S. stealth bomber in decades on Friday, after years of secretive development.
The B-21 Raider is a sixth-generation aircraft intended to serve as the backbone of the US fleet amid increasingly shaky relations with China and Russia.
The streamlined stealth bomber created by Northrop Grumman made its public debut at an Air Force facility in Palmdale, California.
Friday’s event marked the first time since 1988 that a new American bomber was publicly unveiled.
The plane’s maiden flight is scheduled for 2023, though the actual timing will depend on ground test results, Northrop Grumman said.
According to the aerospace and defense manufacturer, six B-21 test aircraft are currently being assembled at the company’s Palmdale, California, facility.
The aircraft offers long range, high survivability and mission payload flexibility.
The B-21 Raider is optimized for high-end threat environments, said Northrop Grumman, with next-generation stealth technology, advanced networking capabilities and an open system architecture.
The aircraft can deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads.
“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of breakthrough innovation and technological excellence,” said Doug Young, industry vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “The Raider demonstrates the dedication and skill of the thousands of people who work every day to deliver this aircraft.”
With a sleek appearance, the B-21 Raider bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit.
But the new bomber also has several modern updates.
“The way it works internally is extremely advanced compared to the B-2 because the technology has evolved so much in terms of computing capability that we can now embed it into the B-21’s software,” said Kathy Warden, CEO from Northrop Grumman Corp., according to The Associated Press.
Among the likely updates are new propulsion technologies, more advanced stealth capabilities and new electronic emissions control mechanisms, defense analysts told The AP.
The B-21 is a digital bomber that uses advanced technology to migrate ground systems to the cloud.
Earlier this year, the Air Force and Northrop Grumman successfully demonstrated the migration process.
The approach is an effort to increase affordability and readiness, the company said.
The bomber was named in honor of the “courageous spirit” of 80 pilots who changed the course of World War II with the Doolittle Raid.
The name “Raider” was submitted by pilots from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, according to CNN.
The nickname refers to the Doolittle Raid in 1942, in which 80 volunteers retaliated against Japan with a bombing mission months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“We wanted [to] making sure the aircraft had a strong name that pilots could be proud of, especially those who get the chance to fly and maintain the B-21,” Lt. Col. Jaime Hernandez said in 2016. “We also wanted part of our history, and the story of the Doolittle Raiders epitomizes just that.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and several other guests attended the unveiling on Friday.
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