America's Next Stealth Bomber Is Officially Called The B-21 Raider

Image via U.S. Air Force.

The bat-winged B-21 will be the U.S. Air Force’s first new heavy bomber in decades. The plane is supposed to complement and eventually replace the B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer. And now it’s got a real name too: “Raider.”

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The B-21 was designated at the Air Force Association’s national conference in Washington, D.C. Monday. After holding a naming contest seven months ago, they’ve finally picked a winner. Not sure how seriously they took our ideas (but hey I liked Nightwing.)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced that three servicemen, Lt. Col. Jamie Hernandez, Technical Sgt Derek White and retired Co-Pilot Lt. Dick Cole, actually did win the contest with (apparently) compelling papers on why the B-21 should be named “Raider.”

It’s “B-21” because “first bomber of the 21st century,” by the way. The Secretary did not share any backstory on the “Raider” name at its introduction, but hopefully we’ll hear something more than “sounds cool” in an official capacity soon.

The Air Force has stated that they expect to be testing initial capability by the “mid-2020s,” and some have speculated it will be test flying shortly after that.

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The plane is being designed as a very long-range multirole aircraft. We’ve heard it will have the ability to disrupt enemy communication and control clearing a path for other planes, drop bombs on its own, and potentially even serve as a battlefield control center to run a squadron of drones from.

There were no physical prototypes when the B-21 was officially announced in February, so the final product might actually end up looking different

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So far we’ve heard the U.S. Air Force plans to buy as many as 100 B-21 Raider at an alleged price of $564 million apiece. Basically a bargain considering a B-2 Spirit ended up costing over $2 billion.

Specifics on the plane’s configuration and capability might stay shrouded in secrecy, but we may see a little more of the B-21 soon as the U.S. Air Force’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference continues through September 21st.

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Andrew P. Collins

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL