The US Air Force has released two new images of the B-21 Raider – including the first up-close shot of the cockpit.
Unveiled in December last year, the aircraft is the ‘sequel’ to the UFO-like B-2 Spirit and is designed to silently strike deep behind enemy lines with its 9,500 km range and advanced stealth capabilities.
B-21 Raider manufacturer Northrop Grumman said the world had “never seen technology” like it had developed for the bomber, while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin added it was so advanced that even the most sophisticated air defence systems wouldn’t be able to detect it.
“This isn’t just another aeroplane,” said Austin. “It’s not just another acquisition. It’s the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love. It’s a testament to our strategy of deterrence — with the capabilities to back it up, every time and everywhere.”
Northrop was first awarded the contract for the B-21 in 2015, and its development team includes more than 8,000 people from the prime, its industry partners and the US Air Force.
Australian Aviation reported last year how the US gave its biggest hint yet that it would be prepared to sell the Raider to Australia after it emerged the Chief of the RAAF was invited to its unveiling.
Air Marshal Robert Chipman described the ceremony in California, hosted by Northrop Grumman, as an “awesome display of US innovation”.
The dramatic first reveal, which you can watch here, represented the first time the “sixth-generation” aircraft had been seen outside artists’ impressions and the first unveiling of a new US bomber in more than 30 years.
The US is set to purchase 100, but some analysts have suggested the country wouldn’t part with the secrets to the aircraft set to be the talisman of the American military.
Defence Minister Richard Marles previously said purchasing the B-21 was something that was “being examined” while US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall suggested his country would be “willing to talk” about a deal. Any final decision, however, would likely be made by President Joe Biden.
An independent analysis from The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think tank said it would cost up to $28 billion for Australia to acquire a fleet of 12 B-21s.