Northrop Grumman is working on B-21 Raider development efforts to support the U.S. Air Force's goal of updating its B-2 stealth bomber fleet, Defense News reported Thursday. The Air Force also intends to update the B-2 aircaft's Defensive Management System hardware and software, with three bombers currently under contract for the modernization effort.
Richard Sullivan, a vice president and program manager for the B-2 program at Northrop, said during the B-2 bomber's 30-year anniversary at Northrop's Palmdale, Calif. facility that the company is working to reduce sustainment costs and allow the aircraft to undergo avionics overhaul work every nine years instead of seven.
The B-21 bomber is expected to be ready for deployment in two years following Northrop's contract award in 2015 if development operations proceed as intended. It completed preliminary design review activities in 2017 and critical design review operations in 2018.
The Air Force intends to purchase at least 100 B-21s and expects the aircraft to achieve initial operational capability in the mid-2020s.