Unveiling of the B-21 Raider: A Look at the Next-Generation Stealth Bomber

On December 2, 2022, the U.S. Air Force unveiled the B-21 Raider, its next-generation stealth bomber, during a roll-out ceremony at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California. While certain angles of the aircraft were off-limits, the front view provided some interesting details about the highly secretive aircraft set to replace the B-1 and B-2 fleets.

The overall shape of the B-21 Raider:

The overall shape is similar to that of the B-2, though it is likely smaller in size than previously anticipated. The leading edge of the aircraft shows a different design concept from that of the B-2. The “hawk’s-beak” profile appears to be similar to the one shown in the latest renderings and less pronounced than that of the B-2. The Raider also features a different inlet configuration, and blended conformal engine nacelles cannot be seen from the front angle. A splitter plate is visible in the inlet of the Raider.

B-21 Raider
Image by: Northrop Grumman

Landing Gear and Nose Doors:

The B-21 Raider has a two-wheel main landing gear (MLG), and its MLG doors have serrated edges. The nose gear door is serrated and is not attached to the gear leg but on the right side of the bay.

Windscreen:

The Raider’s new four-piece windscreen, similar to that of the B-2 Spirit, has a different shape for the two lateral windows. The side windows appear to be arched and narrower than the ones in the front, which are about half their height.

Color and Logo:

The color of the B-21 Raider appears to be a light gray, similar to that of the RQ-180. A small Northrop Grumman Flight test badge appears in front of the nose gear wheel bay and on the upper surface of the right-hand side wing, close to the tip. The U.S. Air Force roundel appears on the left wing.

B-21 Raider
Image by: Miami Community Newspaper

Two new photos, taken on November 28, 2022, were released shortly after the official roll-out. One provides an elevated view of the aircraft, showing that the planform is probably not a cranked arrow wing, as some shadows in the first official images seemed to suggest. The other photo is a close-up of the B-21’s nose, showing the “hawk’s-beak” profile of the new bomber from a 3/4 point of view, which appears quite similar to that of the B-2.

The B-21 Raider’s unveiling has provided some valuable insights into the aircraft’s design, though much of it remains shrouded in secrecy. The new bomber is set to be a game-changer in the U.S. Air Force’s arsenal, with advanced stealth capabilities and a range of state-of-the-art features.

Read more about the B-21 Raider


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