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. The B-21 will have a laser canon. It will have defensive/offensive capabilities. It will be able to cruise at extremely high altitudes and will have anti-satellite/ballistic missile capabilities as well as the lower stuff including ground targets. Its a kinetic/non-kinetic warfare battleship.

  2. I don’t envision this program being the success that they want. It see it being another B-2 with only a handful made after deep budget cuts, cost overruns, and compromises on mission parameters – not unlike the F-35 program. If they want to replace the B-52 with this platform they’re going to need something robust and less groundbreaking. As much as “stealth is the future,” we don’t necessarily need an ultra-stealth platform to replace the B-52 as we already have the B-2, which doesn’t operate until air superiority and SEAD/DEAD objectives are complete anyway. Truth be told, there is enough merit in the 1,001 proposed upgrades, updates, and modifications to the B-52 going back several decades that can revitalize the airframe and platform to make it an even more capable and robust bomber.

  3. It demonstrated that, B2 design is successful. There will be new materials, new construction processes, new capabilities, new weapons, another turn of the screw. Russian add patches to the Tu-160 while studying how to make aircraft invisible, finally, it is likely that they can make a bunch of invisible planes because its price will be unaffordable.

    • Ahhh! Great ! I agree…Don’t forget S400 cnaa detect (50% probabilities) a boeing sized rcs plane ike sukhoys Su serie 400km far ! Such as f22 AESA !

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