The U.S. Air Force has revealed the first image of its future Long Range Strike bomber: the B-21

Here is the Northrop Grumman B-21, quite similar to the Northrop Grumman B-2.

On Feb. 26, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first artist rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber, an aircraft built by Northrop Grumman and designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

The aircraft, that was not given a name yet, is going to be the first stealth bomber of the 21st century: it will supplement the B-52, B-1 and B-2, with the latter (another Northrop Grumman design) sharing much resemblance with the future LRS-B.

In particular, the aircraft seems to be designed around a standard flying wing: neither a “cranked kite” nor a kite like those seemingly spotted over the Wichita and Amarillo back in 2014.

As you probably remember, on Mar. 10, 2014 Steve Douglass and Dean Muskett took the photographs of three mysterious planes flying at very high altitude over Amarillo, Texas.

The three unknown planes looked like boomerang-shaped plane.

About one month later (on Apr. 15), Jeff Templin shot a triangular plane over Wichita Kansas.

Among the theories around both episodes there was the one that the aircraft were LRS-B prototypes. But according to what was unveiled earlier today there no prototypes of the next generation stealth bomber and its shape is going to be much different from that of the aircraft flying at high altitude over the U.S. in 2014.

Hence, the mystery around those sightings remains.


Image credit: Sammamishman based on Muskett and Templin shots

“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said during his testimony on Capitol Hill Feb. 10. “There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats… the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new.”

There are no existing prototypes of the B-21, most of its capabilities are still unknown even though the aircraft is (obviously) believed to embed cutting edge technologies and sensors and to be cyber-resilient against the threats of the future interconnected world.

The artist rendering released on Feb. 26 is based on the initial design concept: this means the actual plane may be considerably different.

The Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft around 2025.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. next bomber will have Mach 5 at least, combined with stealth und a large missile/bomb load … until it is feasable, money will be poured into jobs at northrop in a kind of B-2 v2.0 plane
    it is the way “pork barrel politics” in USA works – money donated to politicians get you contracts that are spread in voters states

    • Dreaming? Just BAE is working on an hybrid jet-ramjet engine, and anyway mach3 would be more then enough to give unstealthy figthers capability to attack sam400 batteries with conventional weapons (non standoff)..Furthermore i do not even try to imagin fule consumption and then autonomy at those speeds! During the seventies soviets have laucnhed handreds of missiles towards he blackbirds overflying russia and nobody get hit not because of stealth but because of speed: mach 3 is more then enough to evade a mach 5 missile if you do not dare flying exactly at his azimut.
      A mach1 1,5 supercruise would ne more then enough to be able to evade conventional fighters and weak even more long range sam batteries.

  2. Sounds more like software version designations when a newer version of the software is more of an update than a complete new version.

    If you think of the B-2 Spirit as the B-2.0 version then this ‘new’ bomber is probably just a major ugrade so hence B-21 or B-2.1

    Larger payload, newer stealth, etc, etc. I don’t see it as a new bomber but more a major update of the current B-2 to do the things that the B-2 can’t currently do.

  3. LRSB. Like six months of teasing by the Air Force and finding out their “supermodel” is really a 40 year old plus sized model. Just as disappointing as this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover.


    That is the 1st look at the B-2 back in 1988. I was puzzled by the lack of exhaust area. I thought it’s underneath or built into the trailing edge. It turned out it was just airbrushed to protect the exhaust trough design that the B-2 has. The B-21 or B-2.1 or B-2 +1 = B-3 is going to look different than the artist impression but not by much.
    The original B-2 trailing edge design was just like the B-21. Then they put saw tooth on it.

  5. After nearly 30 years of B-2 we know almost nothing about it’s true capabilities. One secret is it’s true cruise altitude which is greater than 70,000 feet.

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