The B-21 nuclear stealth bomber, which will gradually replace aircraft initially used during the Cold War, has been presented by the US Air Force.
The first brand-new bomber in 30 years might cost close to $700 million (£569 million) each and be equipped to carry both nuclear and conventional missiles.
As may be expected, little is known about the aircraft’s precise specifications.
However, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, it was “a monument to America’s lasting advantages in intellect and innovation.”
At a ceremony held on Friday at the Northrop Grumman facility in California, the B-21 Raider was unveiled.
Even the most advanced air defense systems will fail to identify the B-21 in the skies, according to Mr. Austin, who claimed that the aircraft will provide considerable improvements over the US fleet’s current bombers.
He added that the plane was also built with an “open system architecture,” which allows for the incorporation of “new weapons that haven’t even been invented yet”.
While the potential for an uncrewed flight was not mentioned during the ceremony, a US Air Force spokeswoman said the aircraft was “provisioned for the possibility, but there has been no decision to fly without a crew”.
The first flight by a B-21 is expected to take place next year.
It will eventually replace the B-1 and B-2 models and the fleet is estimated to cost $203bn (£165bn) to develop, buy and operate over 30 years, according to Bloomberg.
Six planes are currently in production, the manufacturer said, adding they would feature the “next generation of stealth” and that it is employing unspecified “new manufacturing techniques and materials”.
The US Air Force is planning to acquire at least 100 of the aircraft.