PALMDALE, C.A. — At the Air Force Association’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, the newly appointed Secretary of the Air Force announced that five B-21 Raiders are currently in the works.
In his State of the Force address on Monday, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall stated five test aircraft are being manufactured on the B-21 production line in Palmdale, California.
“This investment in meaningful military capabilities that project power and hold targets at risk anywhere in the world address my number one priority,” said Kendall.
According to a news release from Northrop Grumman, the significant progress can be attributed to customer relations between the Air Force and the Aerospace and Defense Company.
“We have a nationwide industry team who has shown tremendous dedication and grit over the past 18 months,” said Doug Young, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Strike Division. “Combined with our extensive collaboration and transparency with our Air Force customer, and the success we’ve had in bringing digital tools into our design and production processes, the B-21 program is leading the way in many respects.”
Northrop Grumman confirmed in January that two test aircraft were being produced at the Palmdale plant. Since then, the Air Force has also released the bomber’s fact sheet indicating its $639 million dollar price tag. The bomber will feature intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic attack, and communication capabilities on top of being nuclear and mixed-munitions capable.
The Air Force has plans to purchase 100 of the long-range stealth bombers to replace the current B-1 Lancers and B-2 Spirits. Ellsworth AFB is expected to receive the first B-21 Raider for operations in the mid-2020s.