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B-21: New American bomber to learn to fear China

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B-21 RaiderThe new US stealth bomber should learn to fear China

The United States has unveiled what it claims is the world’s most advanced stealth bomber. The B-21 Raider is seen as an American response to China’s drive to expand.

The launch of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber took place at the Northrop Grumman factory in Palmdale, California.

AP/US Department of Defense

That’s what it’s all about

  • The US has unveiled its latest bomber, the B-21 Raider.

  • The aircraft features the latest stealth technology.

  • The first flight is planned for 2023.

  • A total of at least 100 units must be built.

The US Air Force has unveiled its new B-21 Raider stealth bomber – the Air Force’s first new bomber model in decades. The high-tech plane, which can theoretically fly without a crew, was staged in a lavish display on Friday the Northrop Grumman defense contractor’s Palmdale site presented in the US state of California.

The B-21 is even harder to spot than other stealth bombers thanks to the latest technology for enemy radars. It can fire both nuclear and conventional missiles. The price per plane will probably be just under 700 million dollars (about 655 million francs), the US Air Force wants to buy at least a hundred machines. According to manufacturer Northrop Grumman, six aircraft are currently in various stages of assembly and testing. The first flight is planned for next year.

The B-21 is a response to China’s rearmament

The B-21 Raider is part of the modernization of the three pillars of America’s nuclear forces: air power, ballistic missiles in silos and nuclear weapons that can be launched from submarines. It also marks a strategic shift from the anti-terrorist campaigns of recent decades to respond to the rapid modernization of the Chinese armed forces (see box below).

According to the Pentagon, China is on its way to have around 1500 nuclear warheads by 2035. Advances in the development of supersonic weapons, cyber warfare and space technology are “the most consistent and systemic challenge to US national security and the free and open international system,” according to this year’s Pentagon China report.

B-21 is to replace B-1 and B-2

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the new plane would have a range “unmatched by any other long-range bomber.” It is also one of the longest bombers ever developed. “Even the most sophisticated anti-aircraft systems would have trouble spotting the B-21 in the air,” Austin pointed out. The stealth bomber was also designed so that “new weapons not yet invented” could be installed.

The B-21 is intended to gradually replace the Air Force’s previous B-1 and B-2 bombers, which date back to the Cold War era. “The B-21 will be the backbone of our future bomber force,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. The aircraft has the ability to penetrate the “most competitive risk areas” in the world and to cause danger in any destination worldwide. The B-21 will in the future with the legendary B-52 Stratofortress form the backbone of the US bomber fleet.

The name Raider is one In honor of the so-called Doolittle Raid – the English word “raid” meant attack – in World War II. Months after the Japanese surprise attack on the American base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, American bombers led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle counterattacked Tokyo. It was the first American attack on mainland Japan and a symbolically important success for American forces.

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The new B-21 bomber was presented to the public for the first time on the company premises of the manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

Reuters

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin personally traveled to Palmdale, California, to present the B-21.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin personally traveled to Palmdale, California, to present the B-21.

AFP

Austin called the B-21 “the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic we all love.”

Reuters

USA relies on military power

According to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the United States is at a turning point in its dispute with China. It will take military might to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set the global norms for the 21st century, Austin said in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday.

The B-21 Raider stealth nuclear bomber is part of this strategy to meet challenges with military power. In the face of China’s rearmament, “we will align our budget with the Chinese challenge like never before,” Austin said. “In an imperfect world, deterrence comes with power.”

Of the threats posed by the two nuclear powers Russia and China, China is the greatest. “The next few years will determine the terms of our competition with the People’s Republic of China,” Austin said. “They will determine the future of security in Europe. And they will decide whether our children and grandchildren will inherit an open world of rules and rights – or whether they will face free-spirited autocrats who try to use force and fear to dominate.” (dpa)

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