Details: New B-21 Bomber Will Have KJU, Iranians, ISIS Finding New Hiding Holes

One of the hallmarks of then-candidate Donald Trump’s run for office was a promise to expand and improve our nation’s military forces, and since taking office, the president has taken steps to fulfill that promise.

One aspect of the expansion and modernization of the military is the U.S. Air Force’s dire need for new strike bomber aircraft, and a recent report from the Los Angeles Times revealed that construction on just such a weapon is on the verge of beginning.

Activity has reportedly ramped up at the Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, where defense contractor Northrop Grumman is expected to perform the bulk of development and construction on the next-generation B-21 Raider long-range stealth bomber.

Northrop won the contract to produce the B-21 in 2015 — beating a combined team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin — and the Pentagon has plans to purchase about 100 of the bombers by the mid-2030s, at an estimated cost of about $550 million per plane.

In March, Defense News reported that the B-21 had cleared one of the final hurdles prior to beginning production.

That hurdle was a preliminary design review, and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson informed the House Armed Services Committee in March that his branch of the military was pleased with what they had seen of the advanced aircraft thus far.

With that out of the way, the L.A. Times noted that business has picked up at the somewhat secretive aircraft manufacturing plant in southern California, where the facility is being expanded by nearly half its current size and jobs are being added at a rapid pace.

There are already some 3,000 employees working at the Palmdale plant, but Kevin Mitchell — deputy vice president of global operations — estimated that there could be as many as 5,200 employees at the plant by 2019.

The Palmdale facility is the site where the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was produced, which the new B-21 somewhat resembles as it shares the same “boomerang” or triangular wedge shape, but that is where the similarities reportedly will end.

Obviously, not much information has been released to the public thus far regarding technical details of the aircraft or its full capabilities, but it is expected to be able to evade even advanced radar systems, be flown with or without a crew, utilize multiple integrated and interchangeable systems, and even carry nuclear bombs in addition to a conventional payload of explosives.

On Northrop Grumman’s “About the B-21” page, it says the Raider “will be capable of penetrating the toughest defenses to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world. We are providing America’s warfighters with an advanced aircraft offering a unique combination of range, payload, and survivability.”

Northrop added, “As stated by the Secretary of Defense, the B-21 Raider ‘will support America’s defense strategy by forming the backbone of the Air Force’s future strike and deterrent capabilities.’”

It is hoped that the new B-21 will eventually allow for the retirement of the Air Force’s rapidly aging bomber fleet, which includes the venerable B-52 Stratofortress — first introduced in 1952 — and the B1B Lancer — introduced in 1986, as well as the handful of B-2 Spirit stealth bombers the Air Force has used since 1997.

Of course, budgetary issues could come in to play at some point, as the Air Force is juggling efforts to update our nation’s nuclear arsenal, complete production of the F-35 strike fighter,  and produce a new aerial refueling tanker as well as the new stealth bomber — with only so much money to go around.

That said, there is widespread and bipartisan support for the B-21, and measures have been taken by the Air Force to cut as much bureaucratic red tape out of the process as possible in a bid to keep costs down.

As a side note, production of the new B-21 Raider will not only pay dividends for our military, but will also improve the local economy around Palmdale, as well as provide business for the dozens of other smaller factories scattered around the country who have been tasked with producing various parts for the new aircraft. That means more high-paying jobs and money for thousands of people, both within those factories and for the small businesses that will expand or sprout up to support them.

(H/T Conservative Tribune)

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