One of the most anticipated events in the world of aerospace is about to happen in just one month.
On December 2, the world will finally get a taste of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, a new stealth bomber that has described by its manufacturer (opens in new tab) as “the most advanced military aircraft ever built”. The company was first awarded the contract to build the B-21 for the United States Air Force (USAF) in 2015, and since then its entire production has been shrouded in secrecy.
This secrecy is about to end. The United States Air Force confirmed in a statement on 20 October (opens in new tab) that the B-21 will be unveiled at a ceremony on December 2 at Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California. “The unveiling of the B-21 Raider will be a historic moment for our Air Force and the nation,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles K. Brown, Jr. said in the statement.
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Little is known about the B-21’s capabilities or configuration. What little has been revealed publicly, according to a USAF fact sheet (opens in new tab)is that the B-21 will be capable of manned and unmanned flight and will be able to carry and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons.
In addition, the stealth bomber is said to be capable of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, conduct electronic warfare (such as jamming or spoofing radar and communications systems), and will feature an “open systems architecture” that will allow it to be upgraded with new possibilities in the future.
Doug Young, division vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, said in a company statement (opens in new tab) It announced on September 20 that the B-21 “demonstrates the dedication and skill of the thousands of people who work every day to deliver this aircraft” and is “a product of ground-breaking innovation and technological excellence”.
According to the same statement, there are six B-21 test aircraft in various stages of final assembly at the company’s Palmdale plant. While the USAF plans the Raider’s first flight to take place in 2023, military officials have yet to announce specific target dates.
The B-21 Raider unveiling ceremony on December 2 will be an invitation-only event.