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Photos: See the 5 Photos of America's Newest Stealth Bomber Plane: 'Visible and Flexible Deterrent'

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The newest bomber that will be defending America and attacking its enemies was unveiled Friday as the B-21 Raider made its official debut.

The plane was shown off on the ground in Palmdale, California, but will not make its first flight until 2023, according to Fox News. Plans call for the first six of what are expected to be 100 planes, which will be capable of flying unmanned as well as with a crew.

“The B-21 Raider is a testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation. And it’s proof of the Department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future. Now, strengthening and sustaining U.S. deterrence is at the heart of our National Defense Strategy,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, according to a Northrop Grumman news release.

The release said the B-21 will be a “visible and flexible deterrent.”

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“This bomber was built on a foundation of strong, bipartisan support in Congress. And because of that support, we will soon fly this aircraft, test it and then move into production,” he said.

The release noted that the plane’s nickname pays homage to the Doolittle Raiders of World War II. In the Doolittle Raid of 1942, Lt. Col. James Doolittle led 16 B-25 bombers to attack Japan.

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A report in Time said that as it was rolled out, “The thin gray aircraft resembled a stingray.”

The B-21, which has an estimated cost of $692 million per plane, comes at a time of need, Time’s report said.

“The Air Force now has the smallest and oldest fleet in the nation’s history. Roughly half of the Air Force’s 141 bombers are B-52s, which rolled off assembly lines during the Kennedy Administration,” the report noted.

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“Stealth is the B-21’s defining feature,” Time wrote, adding that “To lower the infrared and acoustic ‘signatures,’ the B-21 is designed to fly at subsonic speeds, powered by jet engines embedded into the wings like shark gills.”

“High-tech coating materials are applied to the rounded exterior, creating a sponge-like skin reputed to absorb radar waves as they strike the aircraft. The B-21 is designed to be even stealthier than the B-2, which reportedly appeared no bigger than a tennis ball on radar screens despite a wingspan akin to a 747 jumbo jet,” Time added.

The report noted that suppliers often have not been aware they were making parts for the plane, and that until June, workers on the plane could not even tell family members about the project.

“There can be some challenges because we can’t really talk about what we do at work,” technician Hassan Charles told Time. “But a lot of hands went into making this bird, a lot of hours, a lot of challenging times.”

At the ceremony, Austin said the B-21 can carry “nuclear and conventional munitions” as well as weapons still on the drawing board.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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