US unveils £639m plane that’s ‘stealthiest and most lethal bomber ever created’

A stealth bomber believed to be potentially the most lethal and stealthiest aircraft ever to fly the skies was unveiled in the Californian desert yesterday.

The impressive B-21 Raider plane, which was showcased to a small group of guests at the Northrop Grumman facility, is quickly gaining a reputation as the most advanced warplane ever built and can even carry out missions unmanned while being controlled by a pilot back in America remotely.

Its official launch marked the culmination of a £165 billion, seven-year classified military programme aimed at creating an aircraft capable of evading the planet's most advanced radar detection systems while carrying conventional and thermonuclear missiles.

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The B-21 also possesses advanced long-range precision strike capabilities and is the Air Force's first new bomber since 1988 when the B-2 Spirit emerged from the same facility.

Each plane will cost £639 million to construct with as many as 100 expected to enter service, as the threat of nuclear war heightens amid tense US relations with Russia, North Korea and China.

They have been designed to survive after hitting even the most heavily-defended targets.

China might dispute the B-21 stealth capabilities having recently boasted that their radar detection system is a match for any aircraft in the world.

But, as well as conducting bombing missions, the Air Force's new bomber will gather and share intelligence to help direct attacks on multiple targets.

The potential for future software updates is also intended to keep the plane ahead of the game for years to come.

The Raider name, meanwhile, pays homage to the daredevil volunteer squadron known as the Doolittle Raiders who, during World War 2 hostilities, carried out the first-ever US air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago on April 18, 1942.

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Only minor damage was carried out by the raid, which was in retaliation to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour.

But, more significantly, it highlighted that mainland Japan was vulnerable to American attacks from the air.

The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, with 80 volunteers splitting up into teams of five and flying over from Chinese airfields in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers.

Despite heavy ground artillery fire, all but one Raider plane successfully hit their targets around Tokyo and Yokohama but, due to nightfall, bad weather or low fuel, none of the planes completed their return trips, meaning they crash-landed or bailed out mainly off the Chinese coast.

Three men consequently died whilst eight were taken as prisoners of war.

Four of those lived to be rescued, but three were executed and one died from disease.

Explaining the decision to name the new bomber after the 1942 Raiders, a statement on Northrop's website read: "The raid acted as a catalyst to many future innovations in US air superiority from land or sea. That bold, innovative and courageous spirit of the Doolittle Raiders has been the inspiration behind the name of America's next-generation bomber, the B-21 Raider."


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