The U.S. Air Force's newest nuclear stealth bomber makes its first public debut on Friday. The highly classified program is part of the Pentagon's response to China's military advances and growing concern of a potential future conflict with the communist regime.
The B-21 Raider, which the Air Force will unveil at a facility in Palmdale, Calif., is the first new American bomber in 30 years, the Associated Press reports. The Pentagon plans to build 100 B-21 Raiders in an effort to rival China's rapid military modernization.
The B-21 Raider, which is named after the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, will be able to deploy nuclear weapons and conventional bombs with or without a human crew.
"We needed a new bomber for the 21st century that would allow us to take on much more complicated threats, like the threats that we fear we would one day face from China, Russia, " said former U.S. Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James. "The B-21 is more survivable and can take on these much more difficult threats."
Kathy Warden, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Corp., which is building the B-21 Raider, told AP the advanced manufacturing techniques and materials used for the new bomber will make it more stealthy.
"When we talk about low observability, it is incredibly low observability," Warden said. "You’ll hear it, but you really won’t see it."
While new fighter and ship programs usually take decades to develop, the B-21 Raider took only seven years to debut. Its first test flight will be in 2023.
Published under: Air Force , China , Nuclear Weapons