US Air Force’s Futuristic B-21 Raider Enters Low-Rate Production

The US Air Force’s highly-classified B-21 Raider program has now been cleared for low-rate initial production.

US defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment William LaPlante announced the development following the stealth bomber’s maiden flight in November.

“Production of the B-21 ‘Raider’ stealth bomber is moving forward,” he told Breaking Defense. “This past fall, based on the results of ground and flight tests and the team’s mature plans for manufacturing, I gave the go-ahead to begin producing B-21s at a low rate.”

LaPlante did not provide specific details about the contract’s total value, the number of aircraft to be produced, nor the estimated date of completion.

However, he hinted at eventually producing the B-21 “at scale” to provide a credible and effective deterrent against adversaries.

‘Readiness for Production’

In a statement to Breaking Defense, Northrop Grumman said it has indeed received a low-rate production contract for the futuristic B-21 Raider.

The agreement was reportedly signed after the stealth bomber completed all necessary trials.

The company also indicated the aircraft’s readiness for production, achieving all flight performance and data requirements.

Northrop previously revealed that early production lots of the B-21 may not be profitable for the company due to the impact of inflation.

‘Backbone’ of Future US Air Power

First unveiled in 2022, the B-21 Raider is capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions for effective strikes.

It is envisaged to play a critical role in ensuring America’s safety in “tomorrow’s high-end threat environment.”

The long-range aircraft boasts stealth features, allowing it to slip through enemy air defenses.

“As the world’s first six-generation aircraft, B-21 forms the backbone of the future for US air power, delivering a new era of capability and flexibility through advanced integration of data, sensors, and weapons, and is rapidly upgradable to outpace evolving threats,” Northrop stated.

The US Air Force plans to buy at least 100 Raiders by the mid-2020s to improve its combat readiness amid escalating tensions with China.

Despite being a classified program, the B-21 has already caught the attention of Beijing, which claims it can shoot down the strategic bomber using artificial intelligence-enabled hypersonic weapons.

Related Articles

Back to top button