B-21 May Carry Drones To Target


As the U.S.’s traditional adversaries flex their territorial muscles, there are more public announcements about new secret programs and the analysts at Forbes believe a drone-carrying B-21 stealthbomber is a possibility. At a recent defense forum, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall fessed up that two new development programs will show up in the next budget, both combat drones. “They’re both unmanned air combat vehicles, unmanned platforms that are designed to work in conjunction with fighter aircraft like [the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter] or F-22 or the F-35,” said Kendall. And in a significant addition, he noted, “On the other hand they work in conjunction with bombers like the B-21.”

According to Forbes, publicly acknowledging new secret programs makes it easier to get them built and while the concept of using drones to help out manned fighters is well established, Forbes says the compatibility with the B-21 is new. Forbes says that to work with the B-21, the new drones will have to be as stealthy and will likely ride to the target area in the mothership, given the distances the bomber will cover. There are apparently a host of flight-ready candidates to be the B-21’s carry-on support drone.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. OH … kinda like the A-12 (M-21) and D-21 ??

    OR, earlier … the XF-85 ‘Goblin’ and the B-36 Peacemaker.

    I hear the B-21 might be ‘optionally manned” too.

  2. ‘As the U.S.’s traditional adversaries flex their territorial muscles’

    We are entering into a new Cold War. I do not expect this one will have as benign an outcome as the last.

    I hope we get strong leadership in the realm of Ronald Reagan again, and soon.

  3. A new secret program announcement?
    It used to be that you were arrested for broadcasting secret military programs. I guess Afghanistan was the beginning of the end for good military decision making?