MELBOURNE, Fla (AFNS) --
Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper, visited the B-21 Raider design and development headquarters at Northrop Grumman, to witness the progress being made on the nation’s most cutting edge dual-capable stealth bomber.
“Nuclear modernization is a department priority – especially in our efforts to implement the National Defense Strategy. We have made great strides in ensuring the strength and reliability of our nation’s nuclear deterrent. The ability to strike any target, anywhere is the ultimate strategic deterrent and the B-21 Raider will bring that capability,” Esper said.
“I am thoroughly impressed by the dedication and progress across the B-21 Raider team.”
During the visit, engineers explained how the B-21 Raider uses digital engineering, prototyping and modern software development. The team also described to Esper how the B-21 Raider incorporates lessons from past programs to improve producibility and maintainability, which will enable more efficient production and sustainment. Furthermore, the use of open systems architectures preserves the ability to effectively adapt to future threats.
Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. Strategic Command, joined Esper on the facility tour.
“We’re excited to get the B-21 Raider to bases in the mid-2020s. The progress I saw today further adds to my confidence that the B-21 Raider will preserve our long range strike and penetrating bomber capability,” Ray said.
Randy Walden, director of the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and program executive officer for the B-21 Raider program, described the parallel efforts ongoing in Palmdale, California, and throughout the country to expand the production capacity across the supply base: “The first test aircraft is being built, and it’s starting to look like an airplane. Suppliers from across the country are delivering parts that are coming together now. Aircraft programs will always have a few surprises early on, and we won’t be any different, but overall the B-21 Raider is coming along nicely,” Walden said.