Air Force Unveils Next Generation Bomber, The B-21

Air Force displays rendering of new stealth bomber for the first time.

Dear ISIS and other (potential) enemies of America: You mess with the bull, you get the … B-21.

Friday U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed an artist’s concept design and the designation of the next generation long-range strike bomber. James was speaking at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

James said the B-21 will let the Air Force launch from the continental U.S. and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

The new stealth bomber has a designation but not a name. The LRS-B was tagged B-21 because it will be the first new stealth bomber of the 21st century. James is opening up the naming of the B-21 to U.S. airmen.

“So we have an image, we have a designation, but what we don’t yet have, we don’t yet have a name,” James said, “and this is where I’m challenging and I’m calling on every airman today … to give us your best suggestions for a name for the B-21, America’s newest bomber.”

The contract has been awarded to Northrup Grumman, which also built the B-2. Analysts say the program will be worth around $80 billion in total, providing a boon to Northrop and its key suppliers, but the Air Force has said only that it expects to pay $511 million per plane in 2010 dollars.

The contract to build 100 B-21s was awarded in October but the announcement has been held up as federal auditors reviewed a protest from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The B-21 program also figures to encounter scrutiny from Congress.

The artist rendering of the B-21 closely resembles the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. The plan is for the B-21 to be operational in the middle of the next decade.

So, ISIS, if you’re still around by then … beware.