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US Air Force B-21 Raider project passes Critical Design Review


The US Air Force successfully held a critical design review of the B-21 weapon system November 28-30, 2018. The event served as a multi-disciplined technical review that ensured the Air Force’s newest bomber has a stable and mature design as the program moves forward into manufacturing and flight test.


US Air Force B 21 Raider project passes Critical Design Review A B-21 Raider artist rendering
(Credit: US Air Force)


According to Air Force leadership, the review highlights the significant progress that has been made on the B-21 since the engineering and manufacturing development phase began nearly three years ago.

The Air Force is pleased with how the program is moving forward,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. “The B-21 Raider program is on the right track to make continued progress over the next few years as it now transitions from the design phase into a robust manufacturing phase that will ultimately produce our first B-21 test aircraft.

The B-21 Program is run by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and its program executive officer, Mr. Randall Walden, is confident in the B-21's path forward.

This critical design event is key to maturing the design of the new bomber and to identifying risks that are consistent with all large acquisition programs across the DOD,” said Walden. “We are excited about where the program is today and we’re looking ahead to actively manage the program to first flight.

When Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson was recently asked about why the AFRCO is leading the B-21 program, he explained, “First and foremost, it starts out with culture, because they are the organization whose culture is: I’ve got to deliver capability at the speed of relevance. It (AFRCO) works for pretty much every type of program that we can do. The B-21 is being run out of the AFRCO and it’s going really well.”

The B-21 bomber is a long range, highly survivable aircraft capable of penetrating and operating in future anti-access, area denial environments. The B-21 is expected to begin delivering initial capability in the mid-2020s.

Defence contractor Northrop Grumman won the award to be the prime contractor on developing the new long-range strategic bomber, which is expected to cost more than $500 million per aircraft, beating out a consortium of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The initial contract value will be worth more than $23 billion, US Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Walsh told the press conference.

Eventually, the US Air Force may buy up to 100 of new stealth aircraft costing more than $50 billion, according to published reports.

(Source: Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)