The US Air Force (USAF) has revealed its newest sixth-generation B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman.  

A formal unveiling event was hosted by the company at its production facility in Palmdale, California, US, on 2 December.

This marks a significant milestone in the USAF’s initiative to modernise its future combat capabilities. It will be a crucial addition to support the nation’s national security objectives.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin III said: “The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades.

“It is a testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation. And it’s proof of the department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future.”

The newly revealed aircraft is the first of six bombers that are being built by Northrop Grumman on the same production line, using the same techniques, tools and processes.

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With this approach, the company’s engineers and technicians can directly apply the lessons learnt from the production of a particular aircraft to its follow-on aircraft.

Designed to replace USAF’s ageing B-2 Spirit and B-1 Lancer aircraft fleet, the new bomber can provide both conventional and nuclear munitions capability. It is also capable of performing crewed and uncrewed operations.

The date of B-21’s entry into service has not been confirmed yet.

However, once inducted, the first bomber aircraft will be based at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) in South Dakota. It will be the main operating base for the aircraft that will also support Raider’s formal training unit.

Meanwhile, the other five B-21s will be based at the Whiteman AFB in Missouri and Dyess AFB in Texas.