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USAF confirms five B-21 Raider test aircraft

24th September 2021 - 09:49 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Shown here is an artist rendering of the B-21. (Image: Northrop Grumman)

Secretary of the US Air Force has announced five B-21 test aircraft are currently under construction during his State of the Forces address on 20 September.

Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force, commented on the latest update of the B-21 Raider programme progress that the five aircraft were being manufactured.

Programme executive officer of the B-21 Raider programme, Randall Walden, had previously confirmed that two aircraft were going down the production line in January.

The B-21 Raider is a strategic stealth bomber aircraft being developed by Northrop Grumman to succeed the B-1 and B-2 fleets in USAF service.

The application of new digital tools and processes early in the engineering and manufacturing development phase has been the focus of recently released programme information.

The use of AR, VR and ground and airborne testbeds have been recently cited as enablers of programme progress and risk reduction.

According to Shephard Defence Insight, the B-21 is being developed to have both conventional, nuclear capabilities as well as manned and autonomous capabilities.

The B-21 Raider will be a component of a larger family of systems for conventional long-range strike, including ISR, EW, communication and other capabilities.

In 2019, the USAF announced its average unit cost as $639 million.

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