MYSTERY WIRE — In the weeks since the US Air Force released a new artist’s rendering of the B-21 stealth bomber, aviation websites have been analyzing what they see and what it means.
While some of the sites say we won’t even see actual aircraft for a couple of years, observers near Area 51 say prototypes are already in the air.
Here’s a roundup of what aviation sites are saying:
How new B-21 stealth bomber compares to B-2A
Analysis indicates the B-21 will come in about two-thirds the size of a B-2A bomber, and a 9-point interactive graphic looks at some of the physical differences. Among those points:
- Revised nose with extended “beak”
- Simpler low-observable trailing edge optimized for higher-/medium-altitude operation
- Low-observable sawtooth edge treatment for main and nose landing gear doors
- Two-screen cockpit windshield (versus four on B-2)
The report details many of the design points listed in the Aviation Week graphic, including: “The B-21’s nearly flush inlets and blended conformal engine nacelles are more apparent now, a key low-observable characteristic that is somewhat revolutionary for the design.”
Much about the B-21 still remains unknown and it’s not clear when we may get a look at the actual aircraft, the first of which are under construction now. The Air Force expects to fly the B-21 for the first time in late 2021, but it is very possible that that schedule could slip.
America’s lethal new B-21 vs. the B-2 stealth bomber
“The new aircraft will take the B-2’s all-aspect stealth design to the next level. Particularly, the B-21’s low observable design will be more effective against low frequency radars operating in the UHF and VHF bands, which are increasingly coming into vogue as a means to counter stealth aircraft.” The website goes further to point out that stealth technology “is ’80s vintage” and will eventually be negated. “Stealth is not a cloak of invisibility, after all.”
The site notes the redesigned nose and goes through some of the Air Force’s commitment to the bomber. “The Air Force plans to buy roughly 100 bombers, but could end up purchasing more depending on the service’s needs.” Along with a companion article, Military.com points out that the B-21 could be needed sooner than later, accelerating the B-1’s scheduled 2036 retirement.
Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider
The report notes the possible configuration for crewless missions. Also:
Based on released artist renderings, the B-21 will have an all-wing planform not unlike the B-2A “Spirit” stealth bomber, incorporating all learned, and possibly new, stealth techniques into its design. The flight crew numbers two and the team is seated at the apex of the “arrow” shape of the planform. All major compartments are situated at the center mass of the aircraft whose fuselage is blended into the wings to promote a very-low-profile when viewed from the size.