(From the National Interest)
By Dave Majumdar
The U.S. Air Force has revealed the designation and released concept art of the shadowy Northrop Grumman Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B). The aircraft will be designated the B-21. But the B-21 Mission Design Series—as designations are referred to in the Pentagon—is a break from tradition; many observers had expected the new stealth bomber to be called the B-3.
According to the U.S. Air Force, “the designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.” The service notes that its rendering of the aircraft is based on Northrop’s preliminary design concept. There is no prototype of the LRS-B that has been built yet.
The B-21 bears more than a passing resemblance to the current generation Northrop B-2 Spirit. That because the Air Force consciously chose to use mature technologies for the LRS-B program. Moreover, the B-2 is the only currently operational aircraft in the Pentagon’s inventory that was designed to be able to counter low-frequency radars operating in the UHF and VHF bands. The LRS-B will advance those broadband all-aspect stealth capabilities to counter the extremely high-end threats that are expected to emerge in the coming decades.
“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said—speaking at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium on February 26 in Orlando, Florida. Read more