WASHINGTON — The B-21 Raider, a nuclear-capable strike-stealth bomber coming first to Ellsworth Air Force Base, will clock-in around $639-million-dollars per aircraft, according to a U.S. Air Force fact sheet released Tuesday.
“Nuclear modernization is a top priority for the Department of Defense and the Air Force, and B-21 is key to that plan,” said Randall Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director. “The built-in feature of open systems architecture on the B-21 makes the bomber effective as the threat environment evolves. This aircraft design approach sets the nation on the right path to ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.”
Northrop Grumman received the Air Force’s engineering and manufacturing contract in late October 2015.
The Raider – named after the Doolittle Raiders of World War II – will perform long-range missions with both nuclear and conventional munitions.
The Air Force will replace existing B-1 Lancers and B-2 Spirits with the new B-21 Raiders in stages, with the end goal of forming a two-bomber fleet of B-21’s and modified B-52’s.
Ellsworth is set to receive its first B-21 Raiders for operation sometime in the mid-2020’s. Officials say the B-21 mission will take over the operational manpower used by the B-1’s and increase personnel by roughly 1,600 airmen.
Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas will also receive B-21’s.