B-21 is a sixth-generation aircraft that is backed by a digital ecosystem and comes with stealth capabilities and open systems architecture to facilitate the integration of new technologies to help keep pace with evolving threats, Northrop said Friday.
“The B-21 Raider defines a new era in technology and strengthens America’s role of delivering peace through deterrence,” said Kathy Warden, chair, president and CEO of Northrop and a seven-time Wash100 awardee.
Lloyd Austin, secretary of the Department of Defense and a two-time Wash100 Award recipient, said the new bomber reflects DOD’s long-term commitment to developing capabilities that will strengthen the country’s ability to deter aggression, which is part of the National Defense Strategy.
“This bomber was built on a foundation of strong, bipartisan support in Congress. And because of that support, we will soon fly this aircraft, test it and then move into production,” Austin added.
The Air Force said the bomber unveiled Friday is the first of six aircraft under production and that it plans to procure up to 100 B-21 units at a cost of $692 million in 2022 dollars.
Ellsworth AF Base in South Dakota will serve as the first main operating base and training unit for the Raider. The service named Whiteman AFB in Missouri and Dyess AFB in Texas as its preferred sites for the remaining home bases.
Northrop won the long-range strike bomber development contract in October 2015. The company’s industry partners on the B-21 Raider program include Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace, BAE Systems, Janicki Industries, GKN Aerospace and Spirit Aerosystems.