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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

B-21: The New Stealth Bomber Russia and China Will Hate

B-21 Raider
B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The U.S. Air Force is set to reveal the B-21 Raider, its latest strategic bomber, in December. After months of speculation as to when the Air Force would hold the reveal ceremony for the B-21 Raider, the Pentagon came out and stated that it would take place on December 2.

B-21 Raider: The Future of Strategic Bombing 

The B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable penetrating strategic strike stealth bomber that will be able to deliver both nuclear and conventional munitions.

The Air Force plans to use the B-21 Raider as a strategic deterrence against an emerging China (which is working on its own sixth-generation bomber, the H-20 Xian). The B-21 Raider will also be able to use stand-off, stand-in, and direct attack munitions in order to engage targets from large distances.

Moreover, the Air Force intends the B-21 Raider to be a member of a larger family of manned aircraft and unmanned aerial systems that work together in a joint environment and share capabilities. This larger family of aircraft will specialize in mission sets such as Long Range Strike, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Electronic Attack, Early Warning, and Communication.

“When it comes to delivering America’s resolve, the B-21 Raider will be standing by, silent and ready. We are providing America’s warfighters with an advanced aircraft offering a combination of range, payload, and survivability. The B-21 Raider will be capable of penetrating the toughest defenses to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world. The B-21 is the future of deterrence,” Northrop Grumman states about the B-21 Raider.

According to Northrop Grumman, there are currently six B-21 Raider test aircraft in various stages of final assembly in the aerospace company’s facilities. Although the future strategic bomber was initially projected to make its maiden public flight this year, program delays have pushed that date to 2023. However, the actual date of the first flight is still to be determined based on how the aircraft responds to ground testing.

“Northrop Grumman is proud of our partnership with the U.S. Air Force as we deliver the B-21 Raider, a sixth-generation aircraft optimized for operations in highly contested environments,” Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, said in a press release.

Each B-21 Raider is expected to cost approximately $600 million, making it one of the most expensive aircraft of all time, but the program is on budget, according to Congress.

The Future Air Force Bomber Fleet 

The Air Force wants to buy, at the minimum, 100 Raider bombers to align with its plans to take the service bomber fleet to the sixth generation.

However, the Air Force also intends to keep the venerable B-52 Stratofortress in service for missions that don’t necessarily require the B-21 Raider’s more technologically advanced capabilities. But for an aircraft that is more than six decades old, the B-52 Stratofortress needs some upgrades fast.


Northrop Grumman


Artist rendering of a B-21 Raider concept in a hangar at Dyess, Air Force Base, Texas, one of the future bases to host the new airframe. (Courtesy photo by Northrop Grumman)

B-2 Bomber

B-2 Bomber. Image Credit. U.S. Air Force.

B-21 Raider

B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

The Pentagon is already working on major structural and technological upgrades for the venerable bomber, which will most likely get the “H” designation (B-52H Stratofortress) once it has completed them. Meanwhile, the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit are set to retire once the B-21 Raider is up and running.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.



  1. 403Forbidden

    October 25, 2022 at 10:57 am

    B-21 is the magical or perfect tinderbox to ignite ww3.

    Falsely believing that masses of b-21s will guarantee victory, USA will corner or force a main rival into a military showdown and then using the b-21 masses in one fell swoop with hope of achieving its great dream of absolute victory.

    But remember, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry even during the best of times, so b-21s can’t guarantee anything except a ruinous war or all out war.

    And even terrible destruction to the force that first unleashed the b-21s !

  2. Steven

    October 25, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Oh, 403, shut up. Always talking stupidity.

  3. pagar

    October 25, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    The writer likes to produce articles about the much fancied infallibility of US weapons and US strategies but does Mr Atlamazoglou understand it’s not the weapons and intentions that determine the final outcome but preparations and careful homework that are the really important or vital tools.

    B-21s need bases and hangars and maintenance facilities and a large ground support crew otherwise the aircraft would be flat on their backs after as brief as one mission.

    The bases and hangars and other stuff are simply highly vulnerable to a rocket strike.

    Surely russkies and chiniss have possession of long-range rockets, don’t they.

    One rocket and it’s game over for the vaunted raider. Game over. But, ah, taxpayers’ money no problemo. No problemo.

  4. Omega 13

    October 26, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    “According to Northrop Grumman, there are currently six B-21 Raider test aircraft in various stages of final assembly in the aerospace company’s facilities.”

    Judging by how the Air Force hides active aircraft, I’d say these six are already assigned to an air base. Remember the F-117 or the B-2? They flew for several years before they became “official.”

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