SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The new B-21 Raider will be finally revealed to the world which might start the second round of battle for the development of low-cost stealth heavy strategic bombers also coming from China and Russia. B-21 Raider bears a familiar resemblance to the B-2 Spirit and will be the first mass-produced low observable stealth heavy strategic bomber that will come with a price tag that was never heard of before indicating B-21 will be the next F-35 in the heavy strategic bomber class that might not be not as good as its predecessor but might be open for export.
B-21 Raider will differ substantially in size, and likely come with two engines instead of four engines and payload when compared to the B-2 Spirit and a lot has been achieved in terms of development of the low-observable technology to make it highly affordable in terms of unit cots. B-2 Spirit like F-22 was very expensive to manufacture and due to its low production run, it overshot the estimated unit cost by several hundred million.
While only 21 B-2 spirits were manufactured at $2.1 billion per unit cost B-21 Raider will cost only $440 million per unit and will be replacing B-1 Lancer heavy strategic bomber with a production run ensured for 130 units. B-21 Raider is half the size of the B-2 in terms of payload and size due to which the cost of production will be a quarter of what B-21 was manufactured decades ago.
Many in the US administration are of the opinion that B-21 Raider should be made available to close American allies, especially countries that can afford them and face a high level of threats from China and Russia. Name going around includes Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and India as some of the countries that should be offered B-21 Raider since these countries can’t manufacture their own and face the highest level of threats from either China or Russia.
Will B-21 Raider will be made available for export will depend a lot on future geopolitical situations and the possibility of acceleration of conflicts in the Indo-Pacific. It is still not clear if countries like India will be interested in such an expensive purchase but anything under $500 per unit is not expensive since we are buying a $100 per unit Predator drone, India can afford a squadron.
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