PALMDALE, California: Northrop Grumman has unveiled its new B-21 "Raider" jet, the first in a new fleet of long-range stealth nuclear bombers for the U.S. Air Force.
A ceremony was held at the company's Plant 42 to offer the public its first look at the new bomber.
By using long-range and mid-air refueling techniques, the B-21, which has a similar "flying wing" shape as its predecessor, the B-2, will be able to deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons around the world.
The Air Force plans to buy at least 100 of the aircraft, which cost some $550 million each in 2010 dollars, or about $750 million in today's inflation-adjusted dollars, to replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers.
In 2015, Northrop overcame competition from Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, to win the contract to build the bomber.
According to Northrop, the B-21 is a sixth generation aircraft, and it can connect to other aircraft and easily deploy future weapons.
In an interview with Reuters, Doug Young of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems said the B-21 also features more durable, stealth-enabling low observable surface material, which will require less maintenance and minimize operations costs and down-time.
More than 8,000 employees from Northrop Grumman, industry partners and the US Air Force are currently working on the project.