Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James just unveiled the first official rendering of what the US Air Force hopes the Long Range Strike Bomber will look like. Officially designating it the B-21 in a speech at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium, James called on all airmen to join in the naming process for the future stealth bomber, which will function as the backbone of Global Strike Command after procurement begins in the coming decade.
The B-21 bears a heavy resemblance to the B-2 Spirit, the Air Force’s first strategic stealth bomber, also built by Northrop Grumman, though with a few key changes. James attributed this to the design requirements put forth by the Air Force which factored into account being able to utilize “existing and mature technology”. The aircraft’s specifications are still classified, though the Air Force expressed an interest in using modified Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofans to power the LRS-B. The F135 was designed for the F-35 Lightning II program, with the ability to exert over 43,000 lbf at maximum thrust. Should an F135 derivative be chosen for the B-21, any developments and improvements made on the engine can be applied to the bomber at significantly lower costs.