Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James unveiled the artist rendering Friday based on the initial design concept.
Black, sleek, with swept-back wings and stealthy design make this aircraft look a lot like another famous bomber — the B-2 Spirit.
James seemed to hint at that during her announcement. “The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” she said at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
James also indicated it is critical B-21 has a long-range standoff weapon and that needs to be LRSO. ALCM built for 10 yrs, been around 30 yrs.
JUST IN from #AWS16: @SecAF23 releases first rendering of #LRSB, the new B-21 pic.twitter.com/85fCCY0TTR
— Air Force Assoc. (@AirForceAssoc) February 26, 2016
Rand: It’s critical B-21 has a long-range standoff weapon and that needs to be LRSO. ALCM built for 10 yrs, been around 30 yrs. #AWS16
— Air Force Magazine (@AirForceMag) February 26, 2016
December 2015, Air Force made the case for the next generation cruise missile – LRSO weapon
AFA challenged Perry’s suggestion in a Dec. 14 letter to leaders of the four defense congressional committees, arguing that building LRSO to arm the Long Range Strike Bomber, the planned B-2 replacement, is critical to national security. The current capability, the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), is essential to the nuclear deterrent role of the bomber leg of the Pentagon’s nuclear triad, AFA President Larry Spencer and Executive Vice President Mark Barrett wrote in the letter.
“Funding its replacement, LRSO, is particularly important given the advanced air defenses of our adversaries,” Spencer and Barrett wrote. “Without a sustained bomber stand-off capability enabled by a modern cruise missile, the bomber leg of the triad will be increasingly at risk.”
The AFA officials also refuted Perry’s suggestion that the plan to buy 1000 LRSOs will inspire other countries to stand down their nuclear forces.
“There are no signs the long-established military requirement for a nuclear-capable standoff cruise missile has diminished,” they wrote. “Instead, maintaining a strong LRSO capability provides the most non-proliferation incentive by convincing allied countries they do not need to develop their own nuclear weapons.”
The Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) effort will develop a weapon system to replace the Air Force’s Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), operational since 1986. The LRSO weapon system will be capable of penetrating and surviving advanced Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) from significant stand off range to prosecute strategic targets in support of the Air Force’s global attack capability and strategic deterrence core function.
.@SECAF23: The #AirForce must maintain advantage over potential adversaries, while preserving peace where possible.https://t.co/mKBP2QH6bN
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) February 26, 2016