California: After years of secretive development, America's latest nuclear stealth bomber made its public debut on Friday as part of the Pentagon's response to growing concerns about potential conflict with China. The B-21 Raider is the country's first new bomber in more than 30 years. Almost all aspects of the program are secret.
At dusk at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, the public saw the raider for the first time in a tightly controlled ceremony. The three remaining bombers—the B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, and B-2 Spirit—took off over the crowd to begin.
The B-21 was then partially ejected from the structure as its wheels extended closer to the outer pavement as the hangar doors slowly opened. Austin commented, "This is not just another plane. This is an example of America's resolve to defend the republic that we all cherish."
Also Read: Call non-Muslims to Islam, if do not obey kill them: Qatar University 'professor'
To compete with China's rapid military modernization, the Pentagon is working to update all three components of its nuclear triad, which also includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads.
China is on track to acquire 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 and its advances in hypersonic technology, cyber warfare and space capabilities "pose the most consequential and systemic challenge to US national security," the Pentagon said this week in its annual China report. " "Free and Open International System."
When the Raider contract was announced in 2015, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, "We needed a new bomber for the 21st century that would allow us to deal with more complex threats than we fear." We will face each other one day." from China and Russia.
The Raider may look similar to the B-2, but once inside, the similarities end, according to Cathy Warden, CEO of bomber maker Northrop Grumman Corp.
Because technology has advanced so far in terms of computing capability that we can now embed in the B-21's software, it is intrinsically much more advanced than the B-2, according to Warden.
Other modifications include the use of state-of-the-art materials in the coatings to make the bomber more aggressive, according to Austin.
According to Austin, the development of this aircraft spanned fifty years of low-observable technology. Even the most advanced air defense systems would have difficulty detecting the B-21 in the sky.
Also Read: Research: Atheists are just as healthy as religious people
According to several defense analysts, the use of new propulsion technologies, as well as new methods to control electronic emissions, may enable the bomber to fool enemy radar and pass it off for another object. According to the warden, it is extremely difficult to observe. "You won't really see it, but you will hear it,"
There are six Raiders in production. The Air Force intends to build 100 such aircraft that can launch conventional or nuclear weapons and operate with or without a crew.
Both the Air Force and Northrop emphasize the rapid development of the Raider: the bomber made its debut seven years after the contract was awarded. Other new fighter and ship programs have taken decades.
Unknown is the cost of the bombers. The Air Force previously estimated the cost per aircraft at an average of $550 million in 2010 dollars, or $753 million in today's dollars, but it is unclear how much is actually being spent. How many bombers the Pentagon buys will determine the final amount.
This aircraft will soon be flown, tested and put into production. Additionally, we will increase the size of the bomber force to reflect the upcoming strategic landscape, according to Austin.
Government watchdogs express concern over hidden costs.
"It can be a challenge for us to do a general analysis of such a large program," said Dan Grazier, senior defense policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight.
Before the B-21 is in the air, it's simplistic to claim it's still on time. Bearing in mind that real problems are only found when one of these programs enters the testing phase. He claimed that's when costs start to escalate and schedules start to slip.
Due to cost overruns and the changed security environment following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Air Force built only 21 of the originally planned 100-plus B-2s.
Due to the significant maintenance requirements of older bombers, few are ready to fly on any given day. To expand its range, the B-21 Raider, which got its name from the Doolittle Raid of Tokyo in 1942, will be slightly smaller than the B-2, according to Warden.
It won't fly for the first time until 2023. To test the performance of the bomber, Northrop Grumman has created a digital twin, a virtual version of which will be unveiled, according to Warden.
Although the bombers are also anticipated to be stationed at bases in Texas and Missouri, the bomber's initial training programme and squadron will be located at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.
Republican US Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota spearheaded the state's application to host the bomber programme.
He described it as "the most cutting-edge weapon system ever developed by our country to defend ourselves and our allies" in a statement. According to Warden, Northrop Grumman has also taken maintenance lessons from the B-2.
When B-2 pilots flew for 44 hours straight to drop the first bombs in Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks, they broke a record. As a result of the limited number of hangars in the world that can accommodate the B-2's wingspan, which restricts where they can land for maintenance, the B-2 frequently performs lengthy round-trip missions.
The Spirit's lack of operable windows and the fact that hot weather can damage cockpit electronics necessitate the need for air conditioning in the hangars. In order to accommodate the size and complexity of the bomber, the new Raider will also receive new hangars, according to Warden.
The Raider's increased range, however, means that "it won't need to be based in-theater," according to Austin. Logistics won't be required to keep any target in danger.
Also Read: Syria Kurds halt joint operations with US-led coalition after Turkish attacks
The debut itself also presented a final observable difference. While both were made public in Palmdale, the B-2 was unveiled in front of a large crowd in 1988.
The Raider was only partially exposed due to advancements in surveillance satellites and cameras, keeping its delicate propulsion systems and sensors under the hangar and shielded from above eyes.
Warden explained that what you can't see is what gives the platform its magic.