Air Force releases new information on B-21 Raider that is coming to Ellsworth
(Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Air Force has released a new B-21 Raider artist rendering graphic and fact sheet on the stealth bomber, which will be stationed first at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City.
The rendering highlights the future stealth bomber with Edwards Air Force Base, California, as the backdrop. The Air Force said the 420th Flight Test Squadron based at Edwards AFB will plan, test, analyze and report on all flight and ground testing of the B-21 Raider before the bombers become active at Ellsworth.
The Air Force said a B-21 maintenance depot will also be established at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
According to a news release, the B-21 program is in the engineering and manufacturing development phase, focused on scaling infrastructure capacity for the manufacturing of the nuclear-capable aircraft.
"Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and the B-21 is key to that plan," said Randall Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director. "The built-in feature of open systems architecture on the B-21 makes the bomber effective as the threat environment evolves. This aircraft design approach sets the nation on the right path to ensuring America's enduring air power capability."
The Air Force awarded the B-21 Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract to Northrop Grumman on Oct. 27, 2015. Northrop Grumman's partners on the B-21 program include Pratt & Whitney, Janicki Industries, Collins Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, BAE Systems and Spirit Aerosystems.
In 2018, the program successfully conducted the weapon systems Critical Design Review, a comprehensive program-wide evaluation of design maturity, stability and risk.
The Air Force plans to incrementally replace the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit bombers to form a two-bomber fleet of B-21s and modified B-52s.
According to the Air Force's fact sheet on the aircraft, a minimum of 100 B-21s are planned to be built at an average cost of approximately $639 million apiece.
The Air Force said the B-21 program is on track to deliver B-21s to Ellsworth AFB in the mid-2020s.
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