US Air Force Reveals Images of B-21 Stealth Bomber Prototype
The U.S. Air Force has just unveiled new official photorealistic renderings of the B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber.
The Air Force and the bomber's manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, published three new concepts of the stealth bomber, showing the next-generation aircraft in various military hangars.
Not so stealthy now
The concept images, which were shared on an Air Force social media page, show the B-21 in a hangar at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and at the Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
As Military.com reports, last year, the Air Force announced that the B-21's first operational base would be at Ellsworth, which would also be the location for the bomber's first formal training unit.
The $600 million aircraft
The Air Force also claimed last year that the bomber's maiden flight would take place in 2021. However, as The Drive reports, the service later clarified that this would be the very earliest possible date and that it may take much longer to reach that milestone.
As the Air Force's social media post explains:
"The B-21 Raider is a new bomber being developed to replace the Air Force’s aging B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit aircraft. The B-21 will be a long-range, highly survivable bomber aircraft capable of carrying a variety of mixed conventional munitions or nuclear ordnance. The Air Force plans to procure at least 100 B-21 Raiders."
The U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop an eye-watering contract, initially worth $21.4 billion, in 2015. However, total costs are expected to more than double that by exceeding $55 billion over the life of the program. As per NationalInterest.org, the B-21, itself, is expected to cost around $600 million.