The Air Force unveiled its newest stealth bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider, on Friday. It is the first bomber to be made in 30 years.
The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the “courageous spirit” of the airmen who carried out the surprise World War II Doolittle Raid, where 80 airmen flew a retaliatory mission to bomb Japan months after Pearl Harbor.
The sixth-generation aircraft built by military contractor Northrop Grumman is expected to help the Air Force “penetrate the toughest defenses for precision strikes anywhere in the world,” a press release said.
The last bomber publicly revealed was in 1988, when they released the B-2 Spirit. The bomber would be used in Operation Allied Force, responsible for destroying 33 percent of its Serbian targets in eight weeks.
Northrop Grumman said new “technology, capabilities and weapons will be seamlessly incorporated” through software upgrades, making it “the toughest defenses for precision strikes anywhere in the world.”
The stealth bomber features Cloud technology, an open technology architecture capable of seamless digital upgrades, and new manufacturing techniques and materials to “ensure the B-21 will defeat the anti-access, area-denial systems it will face.”
According to CNN, the bomber’s release comes during heightened tension between the US, China, and Russia. The Pentagon released its annual report on China, which said the country “doubled its number of nuclear warheads in a fraction of the time the US expected it to.”
A senior defense official told CNN that by 2035, China is expected to have 1,500 nuclear warheads for an “accelerated expansion” of its stockpile.
The Air Force also stated in a press release the new steal bomber is nuclear-capable, meaning it can carry both nuclear and conventional weapons.
The B-21 Raider will be located at the Ellsworth Air Force Base for its training program. The cost of each stealth bomber is an estimated $692 million.
According to the Associated Press, the Air Force promises to spend at least $55 billion to field an all-new, nuclear-capable bomber for the future and hundreds of billions of dollars to replace all the other significant elements of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. The Air Force says it plans to purchase at least 100 stealth bombers.