AEROSPACE

At Long Last: First Look at the World's First Sixth-Generation Aircraft

Air & Space Forces Association | December 05, 2022 | Read time : 01:23 min

At Long Last: First Look at the World's First Sixth-Generation Aircraft
History will be made today with the unveiling of the B-21 Raider, America's first new bomber aircraft in more than 30 years. The new bomber the world's first sixth-generation aircraft will be the world's most advanced long-range attack aircraft, capable of reaching any place on Earth on short notice, and of penetrating even the most advanced integrated air defenses.The B-21 has been designed and built to Air Force requirements by Northrop Grumman, and will be the Air Force's first new combat aircraft since 2016, and only the fourth new manned combat aircraft in the past 32 years. Among U.S. allies, only the United States possesses bomber aircraft. Yet existing bombers are, on average, more than 60 years old. Modernizing the bomber force has been a long time U.S. Defense Department and U.S. Air Force priority. The B-21 brings a generational leap in technology, capability, and advanced next-generation stealth to strengthen both nuclear and conventional deterrence—and to fight, and win, if necessary, said AFA Executive Vice President Maj. Gen. Doug Raaberg, USAF (Ret.).In order to deter potential adversaries from risking war, you have to be able to pose a credible threat in response," said Raaberg, who commanded the nation's only B-2 stealth bomber wing when it spearheaded the air campaign for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. "The B-21 is central to our continued ability to deter war because it possesses the ability to penetrate deep into any territory on the globe. As someone who has deployed long-range strike capabilities, I can say with confidence that this aircraft will become the essential backbone of U.S. national security strategy. Its ability to get in, stay in, and kill targets—to hold targets at risk—is how we deter potential adversaries from taking the chance of war with the United States and our allies. The B-21 Raider is set to roll out of Northrop's Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., on Dec. 2, where it will begin the initial testing process. Its first flight is forecast for mid-2023.

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