US Air Force shares new images of B-21 Raider nuclear stealth bomber

The highly-classified $692-million aircraft is expected to be operational by 2027.
Chris Young
One of the new B-21 Raider images.
One of the new B-21 Raider images.

US Air Force 

The US Air Force recently released two new images of its long-range B-21 "Raider" nuclear stealth bomber.

Though we know very little about the highly-classified $692-million aircraft, the new images shed a little light on the impressive bomber's capabilities.

US Air Force shares new B-21 Raider images

In December last year, Northrop Grumman and the US Air Force unveiled the B-21 Raider bomber during an invitation-only event. One image was revealed to the public at the time.

The Air Force has revealed two more images of the aircraft that will eventually replace the American nuclear-armed bomber fleet. The new images are a close-up of the bomber's canopy (below) and a wide view from above the aircraft (at the top of the page).

In a press statement alongside the new images, the US Air Force stated, "the B-21 will provide survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners."

US Air Force shares new images of B-21 Raider nuclear stealth bomber
One of the B-21 Raider images.

"The Northrop Grumman team develops and delivers technology that advances science, looks into the future, and brings it to the here and now," Kathy Warden, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman, said during the initial unveiling. "The B-21 Raider defines a new era in technology and strengthens America's role of delivering peace through deterrence."

B-21 Raider will feature state-of-the-art AI capabilities

Though the Air Force is tight-lipped about the B-21 Raider for the most part, it has stated that it was designed to perform long-range missions from US territory with minimal refueling requirements. The aircraft also features AI capabilities that will allow it to operate without a crew.

The new images also show that the B-21 takes strong design cues from the B-2 Spirit bomber. However, the main difference, aside from its advanced stealth technologies, is the grayish-white coating of paint that is reportedly more effective than the older B-2's coating. The B-21 also has more curved cockpit windows so as to better scatter reflected radar signals.

The Air Force will purchase at least 100 B-21s, and the first is expected to go into service in 2027. They are expected to replace the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers by 2040 and the B-52 Stratofortress by around 2050.

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