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Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider (LRS-B)

Long Range Strike - Bomber / Stealth Heavy Bomber

Northrop Grumman was awarded the rights to design, develop, and produce the next USAF strike bomber through the LRS-B initiative.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 10/28/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 2032
Status: In-Development
Manufacturer(s): Northrop Grumman - USA
Production: 0
Capabilities: Ground Attack; X-Plane;
Crew: 2
Length: 65.62 ft (20 m)
Width: 164.04 ft (50 m)
Height: 16.40 ft (5 m)
Weight (Empty): 154,324 lb (70,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 374,786 lb (170,000 kg)
Power: (Assumed): 2 x Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines developing over 15,000lb of thrust each (estimated).
Speed: 621 mph (1,000 kph; 540 kts)
Ceiling: 49,213 feet (15,000 m; 9.32 miles)
Range: 6,835 miles (11,000 km; 5,940 nm)
Operators: United States (planned)
On February 26th, 2016, the designation of "B-21" was revealed for the upcoming Northrop Grumman LRS-B program. Artist renderings were also revealed and showcase a bomber form not unlike the current B-2 "Spirit" series in service. Performance and capabilities will be forthcoming as the project evolved. As such, this article will be updated accordingly.

Partners announced for the B-21 program are Pratt & Whitney (engines), BAe Systems (electronics), GKN Aerospace (metals and composites), Janicki Industries (composites and tooling), Orbital ATK (wing skins and nacelles), Spirit Aerosystems (metals and composites), and Rockwell Collins (communications). Northrop Grumman will provide the radar fit.

The B-21 is expected to enter service in the latter half of the 2020s with a target fleet of 100 aircraft. These will be used to succeed (perhaps optimistically at this point) the aging line of Boeing B-52, Rockwell B-1 and perhaps Northrop's own B-2 stealth bombers currently in service. The USAF's Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) is currently heading the venture.

Based on released artist renderings, the B-21 will have an all-wing planform not unlike the B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber, incorporating all learned and possible new stealth techniques into its design. The flight crew numbers two and is seated at the apex of the arrow shape. All major compartments are seated at the center mass of the aircraft whose fuselage is blended into the wings to promote a very low profile. At rear, the engines will be embedded into the design and its exhaust protected as much as possible from IR locators. An unmanned option has been mentioned for the bomber. A retractable tricycle undercarriage is assumed for ground-running.

Program Updates

February 2016 - Work on the B-21 project began.

September 2016 - The name of "Raider" has been assigned to the B-21 by the USAF. It is in honor of the "Doolittle Raiders" of World War 2. The service seeks to purchase 100 B-21s at a cost of $564 million per aircraft.

March 2017 - It was announced that the B-21 had passed a pair of preliminary design reviews.

November 2017 - Requirements of the B-21 product, and its basic design, have been completed.

June 2018 - The B-21's Critical Design Review (CDR) is slated for completion before the end of 2018. The CDR phase precedes the component manufacturing step required to produce a flyable prototype.

October 2019 - The first B-21 airframe is reportedly under construction by Northrop Grumman out of the company's Palmdale, California facility. A first-flight is tentatively scheduled for December 2021.


Assumed internal weapons bay supporting up to 50,000lb of ordnance (conventional drop bombs and precision-guided bombs) including nuclear-tipped bombs/missiles.

Graphical image of an air launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition

Variants / Models

• B-21 - Official Series Designation applied in February of 2016.
• LRS-B ("Long Range Strike - Bomber") - Project Name
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