The new B-21 stealth bomber, the newest and most advanced bomber, will be named the B-21 Raider in honor of the famous Doolittle Raids of World War II.
The name is a nod to the Air Force’s roots. The Doolittle Raids were the first bombing raids to be launched from an aircraft carrier.
Two airmen submitted the name as part of a contest held by the Air Force for Air Force personnel and their families. Officials felt that the proposed name “captured the essence of the bomber force,” stated the secretary of the Air Forse, Deborah Lee James, at the Air Space Cyber 2016 conference, on Monday.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cole was a copilot with Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle during the famous raids, announced the name. Cole turned 101 on September 5th. He is the last surviving member of Doolittle Raiders.
Doolittle led 16 B-25s on an aerial strike over Japan on April 17, 1942. The mission was retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eighty airmen volunteered for what was considered a suicide mission. In the end, all but three survived.
The Air Force is working on raising funding support for the new machines as Congress continues the battle over military funding for the next financial year. Congress is considering a stop-gap measure known as a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government through until the end of the year.
“A short-term continuing resolution is manageable but, let me tell you, a long-term continuing resolution would be very damaging for the Air Force. A continuing resolution would “cap the production of the KC-46, prevent us from devoting more funds to developing the B-21 next year, and delay about 50 construction projects,” stated James at the conference.
Modernization is still a priority for the Air Force even as it remains a major force in defending against current and emergent threats.
James added: “We have the oldest aircraft fleet we have ever had, 27 years old on average. This absolutely needs to be a focus for us.”
Republican Senator John McCain forced the Air Force to reveal the costs of the B-21 program earlier this summer. Each plane is expected to cost around $556 million. The entire program is expected to cost $80 billion. The GAO expects to release a declassified report with some contract details later this month, Daily Caller reported.
The Air Force is resistant to releasing information about the B-21 for fear of revealing capabilities which would allow foreign governments to re-engineer the technology.
“It’s not secrecy, it’s classification to keep it from our enemies; I don’t want our enemies to reverse engineer,” said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.