Report to Congress on Air Force B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber

September 23, 2021 10:32 AM

The following is the Sept. 22, 2021 Congressional Research Service report, Air Force B-21 Raider Long-Range Strike Bomber.

From the report

The Department of Defense is developing a new long-range bomber aircraft, the B-21 Raider (previously known as LRS-B), and proposes to acquire at least 100 of them. B-21s would initially replace the fleets of B-1 and B-2 bombers, and could possibly replace B-52s in the future. 

B-21 development was highly classified until the summer of 2015, when the Air Force revealed initial details of the aircraft and the program. Although technical specifications and other data remain out of public view, many details of the budget, acquisition strategy, procurement quantities, and other aspects of the B-21 program are now in the public arena. On September 20, 2021, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall announced that five B-21s were in production. 

The Administration’s FY2022 budget request included $2.98 billion for further development and initial production of the B-21. As passed, the FY2021 defense appropriations bill funded the program at $2.84 billion. 

As a large defense program that involves issues of strategic and nuclear policy, as well as substantial expenditures, the B-21 is likely to be subject to significant congressional interest.

On October 27, 2015, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced its intention to award a contract to build the new Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) to the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Subsequently, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that the bomber would be designated the B-21 “Raider,” in honor of the Doolittle Raiders of World War II.

The B-21 is intended to operate in both conventional and nuclear roles, with the capability of penetrating and surviving in advanced air defense environments. It will be capable of operation by an onboard crew or piloted remotely. It is projected to enter service in the mid-2020s, building to an initial fleet of 100 aircraft. B-21s will be based at Dyess AFB, TX; Whiteman AFB, MO; and Ellsworth AFB, SD, with Ellsworth as the training base. 

The B-21 is one of the Air Force’s top three procurement priorities.

Download the document here.


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