By Gar Smith
The Secretary of the Air Force has asked for help in naming the B-21 long-range strike bomber — “A Bomber for the 21st Century” in her words.
The contest is set to run through May 6 and it is open to “members of the US Air Force active duty force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, and their dependents, members of the US Air Force Civil Service and US Air Force retirees.” According to the official rules, taxpayers are “disqualified” from participating. Perhaps for good reason.
I think taxpayers and “ordinary citizens” should have an equal opportunity to participate in this naming game.
To get things started, here are a couple of names that occurred to me:
A Bummer for the 21st Century
Post your entry as a comment below.
USAF Won’t Reveal How Much Its New Bomber Really Costs
Scott Amey / The Project On Government Oversight
(April 12, 2016) — The recently announced Long Range Strike Bomber is moving forward with no one in Congress knowing its actual price tag. Despite requests by the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Air Force has decided against releasing the final contract value to taxpayers. It stands by its decision to only release estimates. The B-21 contract, which was awarded to Northrop Grumman in October 2015, now is estimated to cost taxpayers as much as $58 billion.
Here’s the link to the video of Secretary James making her pitch:
Ladies and Gentlemen, It Is My Distinct Honor to Give You a Bomber for the 21st Century
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presents the artist rendering of the B-21 during her “State of the Force” presentation during Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium.
ORLANDO, Fla. (February 26, 2016) – [James reads from a prepared text.]
Do you think anyone here would be interested in seeing a new bomber for the 21st century? Really seeing it?
You think there’s any interest? You guys wanna see it?
All right then. All right then.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor to give you a bomber for the 21st century. The B-21. There it is, the B-21.
[A screen projection displays a painting of Northrop Grumman’s proposed stealth bomber.]
So we have an image, we have a designation, but here’s what we don’t yet have…
[The actual bomber? Well, there’s that, but something else, too….]
We don’t yet have a name. And this is where I’m challenging and I’m calling on every Airman today.
[Female members of the USAF need not apply?]
We want our active duty, our national guard, our reserve, our civilians, our family members. We’d like all of you to give us your best suggestions for a name for the B-21 – America’s newest bomber.
And in so doing, we hope that you’ll take the opportunity [and we’re going to try to facilitate this for you as well] that we can all learn more about the important role that this platform is going to play against the real threats that we will face as the United States of America with our allies and partners around the world in the future. Together, we’re going to lead our Air Force, our military and our country into the next generation of warfare dominance.
[Music swells in the background. The USAF logo fills the screen.]
Name that Bomber: US Air Force Opens B-21 Contest
(March 8, 2016) — In a bid to be more receptive, the US Air Force has invited its members and their families to suggest a name for the next-generation bomber, known as the B-21. Still on the drawing board, the new plane is intended to replace the aging US bomber fleet.
Speaking at the “State of the Air Force” press event on Monday, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the contest, which will run through May 6. It is open to “members of the US Air Force active duty force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, and their dependents, members of the US Air Force Civil Service and US Air Force retirees,” according to the official rules.
The lucky contestant whose name for the new bomber is chosen “will have the prestige of naming the Air Force newest bomber and will be highlighted” on the USAF website, the service branch announcement said. “The participant may also be selected to attend the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Exhibition in September 2016 to be acknowledged by Air Force leadership.”
After James unveiled the artistic rendering of the B-21 at an Air Force Association conference in Florida last month, Defense News conducted an unofficial poll of its readers to get feedback on some of the suggestions. Of the names on offer, “Valkyrie” was the most popular, with “Wraith” coming in second.
James also named the seven sub-contractors that will help build the bomber. Pratt & Whitney of Connecticut will build the engines, while BAE Systems of New Hampshire, GKN Aerospace of Missouri, Janicki Industries of Washington, Orbital ATK of Utah, Rockwell Collins of Iowa, and Spirit Aerosystems of Kansas “will work on airframe and mission systems,” the secretary said.
It is no coincidence that the artistic concept for the new B-21 bears a striking resemblance to an earlier stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit. The USAF awarded the contract to develop and build about 100 B-21s to Northrop Grumman, makers of the B-2.
Only 21 Spirits were ever built, at the “flyaway cost” of $737 million apiece, before the program was scrapped in 2000. Northrop has pledged to keep the price tag of the B-21 at or below $550 million apiece, in 2010 dollars.
To bridge the gap until the B-21 is built and deployed, the USAF is refitting its aging fleet of B-1B Lancers and planning to overhaul the B-52 Stratofortress bombers, which have been in service since the 1950s.
Post your contest entry naming this thing as a comment below.