A newly released Northrop Grumman B-21 picture published March 7 offers the first clear view of both of the bomber’s unique air inlets, which are shaped like sideways teardrops. The image appeared in a presentation by Gen. C.Q. Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, who addressed the Warfare Symposium in Aurora, Colorado. The designers positioned a bulbous inboard section apparently to ingest the boundary layer of air flowing over the leading edge of the wing.
From above, the inlets appear to be L-shaped, with a right angle placed at roughly one-third of the inlet length. Both sides sweep forward from the right angle, with the outboard section at roughly two-thirds the length. The B-21 has a pair of indentations above the engine nacelles on either side of the aft fuselage. The openings may be slits for supplemental inlets or exhausts. Alternatively, they could be apertures for sensors or communications. The identity and quantity of the engines on the bomber have not been disclosed.
“The capabilities and technology integrated into that weapon system is second to none,” Bussiere said. “It will be the most advanced strike platform ever designed or built on the planet.” The B-21 is scheduled to fly this year, but Air Force officials do not offer more details. Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. Watch an overview video here. For more information, visit Aviationweek.com.