- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2016

The U.S. Air Force on Friday revealed the first concept image of its much anticipated B-21 long-range bomber and will be taking suggestions from airmen to help decide the name of the futuristic warplane.

Speaking at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James unveiled an artist’s rendering of the plane, known until now as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B).

“This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process,” Ms. James said. “The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall.”

There are no prototypes of the bomber yet and the artist’s rendering is based on the initial concept of the warplane set to be designed and built by Northrop Grumman. The B-21 will be the military’s first bomber of the 21st century.

Ms. James said the B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch airstrikes from the continental U.S. to anywhere in the world.

She acknowledged the B-21’s similar design to the current B-2 stealth bomber, which is also made by Northrop Grumman, saying the new plane has been designed “based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology.”

The B-21 program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

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