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What do we know about the new US B-21 stealth bomber, for the first time in 30 years | weapons news


For the first time in more than 30 years, the US Air Force unveiled a new stealth bomber. The B-21 Raider is scheduled for its world premiere on Friday.

The next-generation stealthy long-range strategic bomber is designed to eventually replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft and become the backbone of the Air Force’s bomber fleet. USA.

Notable for a major weapons program, the B-21 arrived just in time and was reported to be within the $25.1 billion budget the US Air Force allocated for it in 2010. Northrop Grumman , the company developing the bomber, seems to have learned from those lessons. previous premium programs such as F-35 and B-2 bombers.

The 34-year-old B-2 Spirit is a generation ahead of its time. The advanced materials covering the plane, combined with the shape of the airframe and the engine’s air intakes, mean that its radar signature is very small, making it virtually “invisible” to radar.

This allows the aircraft to perform long-range strike missions in heavily defended areas with a good chance of surviving the mission, something that other bombers, such as the B-1 and Honorable B-52 there will be very little chance of success.

Undetected, the B-2 was able to destroy high-value targets deep in enemy territory without warning.

So what makes its successor, the B-21, so special?

Much the same thing?

The program has been highly classified and Northrop Grumman has revealed some details about the project, but some information has been leaked in the published reports.

The B-21 Raider has clearly drawn on many designs from its predecessor, such as the flying wing concept with its engines embedded and configured to effectively reduce radar signatures.

The airframe is slightly smaller than that of the B-2: its payload – the amount of ordinances, bombs and missiles it can carry – is almost halved.

It’s not particularly fast – designed to fly at subsonic speeds – and it’s not the quantum leap that the B-2 stealth bomber achieved when it was in production. was first introduced in 1988.

However, it is significantly cheaper, both to purchase and to maintain. The B-2 is extremely expensive to maintain in flight, and the B-21 will significantly reduce the cost in money and labor hours required for maintenance. Cheaper planes are more likely to be purchased in higher quantities. One hundred aircraft were initially slated for production and this number is likely to grow if costs can be kept low.

What’s new?

While stealth is the main attribute, it is not the only quality of the B-21. What is Air Force, and US Army in general, has been working to build a powerful, distributed network of long-range sensors and attack platforms that transmit and share vast amounts of data about the enemy they are fighting.

The B-21 fits perfectly into this new strategic network, able to gather intelligence on a potential enemy or area and launch an attack. In other words, it can collect and relay information to allied aircraft, satellites, radars, etc., and it is also an offensive weapon, which can destroy targets within its range. it.

Long-range strikes may be its primary mission but the B-21 bomber will be able to gather and share intelligence, helping to control its own fleet of weapons so it can take turns Destroy multiple targets. In short, its ‘brain’ is its most valuable asset and the use of open source software will allow for easy upgrades of the aircraft – ensuring it remains flexible and advanced while extending its life. Its usefulness seriously.

The aircraft can fly in manned and unmanned configurations and its internal weapons bays will allow it to carry the latest long-range stealth missiles like JASSM (Air-to-ground Linked Missile) as well as other conventional and nuclear weapons.

Invisibility at stake?

These attributes are all very important if the aircraft is going to survive. It has been reported that advances in quantum radar could enable stealth aircraft detection. China claims to have installed a radar that its military says is most capable of detecting stealth aircraft, an assertion denied by Western experts.

However, this is a highly concentrated area, especially with obvious military applications. For decades, stealth aircraft have dominated the skies, so with a quantum radar that actually works, the significant advantages that US stealth aircraft have will disappear overnight. Usually, invisible and impregnable aircraft can be detected and shot down.

Even without stealth, the B-21’s other attributes are what make it such a dangerous aircraft. It can absorb information at a much higher rate than its rivals – meaning it will know where the enemy is and where its own assets are – fitting into a broad framework of Deadly platforms can destroy their targets from a great distance.

This ability to collect, absorb, and assimilate massive amounts of data, the B-21’s extensive means of staying up to date, and all of its sensors being the latest and greatest will make the Raider a weapon of choice. powerful gas for which it is designed.

Friday’s launch of the B-21 means the beginning of years of development, tuning, refinement and refinement as the bomber undergoes continuous tests, first on the ground and then on the ground. it was airborne under various conditions (before it was put to final use). inducted into the United States Air Force).

But it has become one of the weapons any potential adversary would fear most as there would be little or no warning that it would reach deep inside enemy airspace. It is this element of deterrence that will be part of any competitor’s mindset when considering military action.

China, which has seen stealth bombers on US battlefields for decades, has now stepped up research into building its own Xian H-20 stealth bomber. The B-21 Raider will have its rivals.

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