World’s most dangerous and advanced aircraft B-21-raider has joined the US Air Force fleet. Launched on December 2, this aircraft is more advanced than Russia’s newest fighter aircraft, Rafale. As per the reports, this fighter plane will take off for the first time in 2023. Ahead of its first flight, a glimpse of the world’s first sixth-generation warplane has been unveiled.
The Raider B-21 is the only aircraft of the sixth generation. Rafale, on the other hand, is the fourth and fifth-generation aircraft. As of now, America is the only country with a sixth-generation warplane. Meanwhile, big countries like China, Russia, Britain, and France are still working on similar technology.
The thin air intakes employed in the plane, are the single biggest indicator of the engine and materials technology. Having more surfaces to reflect, the B-21 has the benefit of an increase in the radar bouncing off the aircraft.
The aircraft is known to have been developed as a subsonic aircraft and is not meant for the tight maneuvers of a fighter.
The colour palette of the craft is white and it did not have the peculiar stealth pattern of sharp edges. Even the serrations can be seen on the B-2. Whether it is the final paint theme or not is yet to be known.
But it can be safely assumed that Northrop has worked on moving from the expensive radar coating paint and materials whose wearing off often keeps a lot of B-2s in the hangar.
B-21 strategic stealth bomber includes the B-52s, the B-1 Lancer, and the B-2 Spirit,’ making it the leading edge in a war.
Reportedly, there have been calls to make around 150-200 planes, and it will be long before the final staging is conducted. However, Northrop Grumman’s CEO Kathy Warden has said that the “robust ground testing and first flight” will soon be staged.
Possibly in just two years, the aircraft will see massive tweaking and modifications to finalize the series and production model.
Meanwhile, Northrop claims that a “digital twin” of the warplane has been already taken care of. This means an exact digital replica of B-21 has been created to envision and study the impact of various technical tweaks. Combined with its “open architecture” design, the upgrade process has been claimed to be faster and as effective.
As to the estimates provided to Bloomberg by the US Air Force (USAF), the plane would cost around 203 billion to develop, operate and purchase 100 aircraft over 30 years. The estimated per unit cost, meanwhile, remains under the 550 million dollar target.
According to the company, the B-21 will rely on “external support platforms or systems.” However, it is unclear whether these are escort aircraft, bomber-launched vehicles, satellites, or other technology.
The plane has been designed in a modular, open architecture framework for “rapid upgradeability,” dumping the “block upgrades” approach. “The B-21 uses agile software development, advanced manufacturing techniques, and digital engineering tools to help mitigate production risk,” said reports. But, it is yet to be known whether this means 3D printing processes.
The company further stated that the Raider will provide the Air Force with long-range, high survivability, and mission payload flexibility. “The B-21 will penetrate the toughest defenses for precision strikes worldwide,” Northrop Grumman added.
Calling the B-21 the “backbone of the future for US airpower,” the organization said that the fighter plane
has “advanced integration of data, sensors, and weapons,” capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear payloads and “a broad mix of stand-off and direct attack munitions.”