WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States (US) Air Force will unveil its new B-21 Raider, a high-tech stealth bomber that can carry nuclear and conventional weapons and is designed to be able to fly without a crew on board.
The B-21 – which is on track to cost nearly USD700 million per plane and is the first new US bomber in decades – will gradually replace the B-1 and B-2 aircraft, which first flew during the Cold War.
“The B-21 will be the backbone of our future bomber force. It will possess the range, access and payload to penetrate the most highly-contested threat environments and hold any target around the globe at risk,” US Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told AFP.
The first B-21 flight is expected to take place next year, and the Air Force plans to buy at least 100 of the aircraft, Stefanek said.
Manufacturer Northrop Grumman said six of the planes are currently in different stages of assembly and testing at its facility in Palmdale, California, where the unveiling will take place.
Many specifics of the aircraft are being kept under wraps, but the plane should offer significant advances over existing bombers in the US fleet.