The Air Force is developing a secret bomber designated the B-21 Raider that is pivotal to the future success of U.S. strategy in the Pacific. Many of the details about the bomber’s cost and design are not publicly available. However, if you listen closely, there is much that can be learned about this “secret” program. For instance, because of the way the program was structured, new technology will not be a show-stopper and production costs will be surprisingly low. The plane will be able to destroy pretty much any target, no matter where it is, and apply a wide range of munitions tailored to achieve specific effects. It is networked to an overarching architecture of long-range strike systems, but can accomplish missions autonomously without any off-board assistance if necessary. It will be assembled in Palmdale, California and rely on key subcontractors such as Pratt & Whitney, BAE Systems and Collins Aerospace. One other detail that is no secret: by the time it enters the force, the B-21 bomber will be urgently needed. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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