On Friday, the U.S. Air Force will give the family and friends of the 8,000 people who worked on it a chance to see the world’s first sixth-generation aircraft: the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
The showing of the B-21, which is named for the World War II Doolittle Raiders B-25 bomber crewmen, will take place at the Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, California, where the assembly line is located and six B-21 Raiders that are in various stages of final assembly.
“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” Dough Young, Northrop sector vice president and general manager, declared.
“I think it’s the first view of what’s going to be a great capability for our country,“ Tom Jones, president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics System, stated, as Defense One reported. “B-21 really kind of takes it [to] the next step as you’re dealing with larger aircraft, better signatures, and the tolerances required to do all that.”
The new bomber, which has been worked on for years, was built using digital technology, as opposed to prior projects in which X-planes were flight tested then modified before they were produced.
“By being able to burn down a lot more risk digitally, we’re able to take this step, which cuts years out of the overall development program and really wrings a lot of risk out,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can get started and up and running in production much more efficiently and effectively.”
“I’m hoping as we go forward that future aircraft acquisitions will rely on a lot more high-fidelity, digital models, and emphasize fleshing out to production practices, because I think overall, that’s probably going to be a better acquisition practice in the long run,” he added.
Jones lauded the workers who built the plane:
They didn’t have the opportunity to work at home, either because of the classification or they were working in a factory—they were coming in every day, couldn’t tell their families why they were coming in, just they have to go in when a lot of the rest of the world was able to work at home.
Working through all the turmoil of that and still successfully putting this aircraft together. I’m just so proud of the work that they’ve done, and the excitement on the manufacturing floor and engineering spaces is palpable. Like there’s a lot of people that are looking forward to this.
“The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the Doolittle Raid of World War II when 80 airmen, led by Lt. Col. James ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle, and 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers set off on a mission that changed the course of World War II,” Northrop writes on its website. “The actions of these 80 volunteers were instrumental in shifting momentum in the Pacific theater. This marked the raid as a catalyst to a multitude of future progress in U.S. air superiority from land or sea. The courageous spirit of the Doolittle Raiders is the inspiration behind the name of the B-21 Raider.”