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US Air Force Unveils New B-21 Bomber

February 26, 2016 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ann Stefanek/US Air Force Pentagon)

This article was originally published at 9:31 ET on Feb. 26, 2016.

What should the Air Force's new B-21 bomber be named? Scroll down to take our poll.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The US Air Force secretary unveiled the first official rendering of the new Long Range Strike Bomber and revealed its official designation: the B-21. 

In a speech at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium on Feb. 26, Secretary Deborah Lee James shared an artist's concept design of the next-generation bomber, which will be built by Northrop Grumman. She also announced the plane's long-awaited designation, calling it the B-21. 

However, the Air Force still has not decided on a name for the new B-21, James said. She called on airmen to send in suggestions.

"So we have an image, we have a designation, but what we don't yet have, we don't yet have a name," James said, "and this is where I'm challenging and I'm calling on every airman today ... to give us your best suggestions for a name for the B-21, America's newest bomber." 

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering unveiled Feb. 26 is based on the initial design concept, according to an Air Force statement. The Air Force settled on the B-21 designation as recognition that LRS-B is the first bomber of the 21st century, the statement noted.

James also explained in the statement why the B-21 shares a resemblance to the B-2, also built by Northrop.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said, according to the statement. 

Northrop Grumman spokesman Tim Paynter stressed the B-21 bomber's importance to the nation's future in a statement emailed to reporters following James' remarks. 

“Northrop Grumman is proud to serve as the prime contractor for the B-21 Bomber, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, to deliver a capability that is vital to our national security," Paynter said. “Any further questions should be directed to the Air Force.”

The Air Force awarded the contract for B-21 engineering, manufacturing and development to Northrop on Oct. 27. The service plans to field the new bomber in the mid-2020s. 


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