In a teaser forward of its maiden flight later this 12 months, the US Air Force has launched two new photos of its B-21 Raider nuclear stealth bomber that present new insights into the design and capabilities of the extremely labeled US$692 million plane.
On December 2, 2022, Northrop Grumman and the US Air Force gently lifted the lid on the highest secret plane that can someday substitute the US nuclear-armed bomber fleet. It was an invitation-only occasion, with the B-21 dramatically, although not clearly, lit up and just one picture launched to the general public.
Now the Air Force has launched two extra photographs taken concurrently the primary. A detailed-up of the bomber’s cover and a full shot from the next angle, they offer us some clues in regards to the design of the B-21, which continues to be so carefully guarded that even its dimensions are a secret.
Designed with what the U.S. authorities calls “unprecedented range,” the B-21 Raider is meant to carry out long-range missions from U.S. territory with out the necessity for ahead bases and maybe with no need for in-flight refueling. This vary is so lengthy that the Australian authorities has been suggested to buy the B-21 as a way to function from protected bases within the south of the nation and nonetheless be capable to assault distant targets with typical weapons.
The different info in regards to the B-21 that the Air Force has admitted is that other than long-range missions, it may be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, in addition to digital strikes, communications, and different features. It additionally has a excessive diploma of autonomy and AI that permits it to function and not using a crew and as a management platform for swarms of drones.
The new footage confirms that the B-21 is an evolution of the B-2 Spirit bomber, mixed with radical advances in stealth know-how. The most blatant distinction is the gray-white colour of the brand new radar-absorbing composite coating, which is claimed to be simpler and fewer fragile than the outdated coating.
The close-up picture reveals that the coating is a composite that appears extra woven than composite, with layers added like tape. This is very evident across the cockpit home windows, which have a extra curved form than these on the B-2 for higher dispersion of mirrored radar alerts. The coating across the home windows now covers all seams and seams for much more inconspicuousness.
The prime angle picture reveals the composite coating extending to the engine intakes. The nacelles are decrease and match extra into the physique, with the intakes formed fairly than sharply geometric, making a smoother blended wing and fuselage. The engine itself is recessed nicely behind the consumption, possible lowering the warmth signature, and the nacelle matches extra into the physique.
Inside the consumption is what beforehand seemed to be a part of the engine construction, however is now revealed to be an consumption cowl that may be eliminated for flight. The tail isn’t clearly seen, nor are the engine exhausts, however the tail construction seems to be extra built-in into the wing and physique fairly than the clear sawtooth configuration of the B-2, though the view isn’t clear sufficient to say . At the again of the motors are some flat geometric constructions that may very well be some kind of gate or satellite tv for pc knowledge hyperlink antenna arrays.
The Air Force plans to buy no less than 100 B-21s, with the primary anticipated to enter service in 2027. The plane will substitute the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers by 2040, and finally the B-52 Stratofortress as soon as. within the 2050s.
Source: US Air Force