The unveiling is reportedly by invitation only, but the U.S. Air Force is providing a livestream beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The event will take place in Palmdale, California, at Northrop Grumman’s facility and is the result of a 2015 contract won by the American multinational aerospace and defense technology company to test and build the world’s most advanced strike aircraft.
The B-21 Raider will be the first bomber introduced since the 1990s.
“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” Doug Young, sector vice president and general manager at Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, said in a press release. “The Raider showcases the dedication and skills of the thousands of people working every day to deliver this aircraft.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Richard Newton, a former assistant vice chief of staff in the U.S Air Force, joined NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Thursday to discuss the significance of the public unveiling.
“The timing is just about right to unveil this aircraft. It’s still veiled in secrecy in terms of some of the materials that go into the aircraft, but it’s now time,” Newton said.
Newton not only commanded the first B-2 squadron, but he has flown all of the bombers currently in the U.S. arsenal.
“It’s a very exciting time, not only for the Air Force, but for our nation. This will be the most sophisticated bomber ever built. So it’s a very exciting time and it’s going to be a tremendous payoff for our military capabilities,” Newton said.
The B-21 is not only made using advanced manufacturing techniques, agile software development and breakthrough stealth technology, but the model is the result of more than three decades of strike and stealth technology, as it is a sixth-generation strategic bomber. The aircraft is fully digital.
“It will hold targets at risk anywhere in the world, 24/7/365, all day, all night. But the other aspect of this airplane is it’s totally digital. It has been built from the ground up in terms of digital capabilities that will provide our ability to upgrade the aircraft in terms of mission sets and mission capabilities, particularly as threats change or if threats get to be more difficult,” Newton said.
The global reach Newton speaks of is a part of why the B-21 Raider will be the backbone of the U.S. bomber fleet and pivotal to supporting America’s strategic deterrence strategy.
So much so that the B-21 has also been designated as the leading system of operations in the Air Force in delivering intelligence, electronic attack and multidomain networking capabilities.
Furthermore, the B-21 will have the support of a national team, consisting of more than 8,000 people from Northrop Grumman, industry partners and the Air Force. The team is composed of more than 400 suppliers from across 40 states.
Additional capabilities include the B-21’s cloud technology, whose ability to migrate B-21 ground systems data to a cloud environment has been successfully demonstrated.
According to a news release provided the day of the aircraft’s debut, the robust cloud-based digital infrastructure will make the B-21 a more maintainable and sustainable aircraft with lower-cost infrastructure.
The cloud feature also gives the B-21 “open architecture,” meaning any new technology or weapons upgrades will be seamlessly incorporated through software and built-in hardware flexibility.
Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, seconded Newton in the press release, saying that the aircraft is optimized for operations in “highly contested environments” and designed to perform long-range conventional and nuclear missions.
The estimated cost to make and operate an aircraft comes to $2 billion per aircraft, Fox News reported. Six are reportedly being assembled currently, with the first craft expected to take flight sometime in 2023.