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Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Unveiling of the B-21 Bomber (As Delivered)

Well, good evening, everyone. It's great to be here on this proud day for the United States Air Force and for our country.

Thanks, Admiral Grady, for the kind introduction. And thanks for your leadership of our joint force.

And Kathy, congratulations to the whole team at Northrop Grumman for getting this big job done.


And let me also thank the members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for joining us—and for supporting the investments that make the United States the best fighting force in the world.

I also want to take a moment to honor former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, whom we lost far too soon. Now Secretary Carter knew that the complex security threats of our changing world demanded new thinking and new capabilities. So he helped start development on this new bomber. And we're grateful for his leadership and his legacy.

And I want to recognize everyone who worked on this aircraft for the past seven years. Despite the long hours, despite the pandemic, day after day, you showed up with determination and drive.

So let's give the entire workforce a round of applause.


By the way, on the way in I noted that there were some pretty good Airmen in the crowd tonight too. It's great to see you all.

Now, this Air Force bomber has been in development for seven years, but its roots go back much further than that.

Eighty years ago, on a cold and rainy April morning four months after Pearl Harbor, 16 U.S. Army bomber planes took off from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

And then-Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle embarked on a daring mission.

At high cost, he and his team of aviators flew more than 650 miles to strike distant enemy targets.

And the Doolittle Raiders, as they came to be known, showed the strength and the reach of American airpower.

You know, we have many family members of those brave pilots and crew members here with us today. So thank you all for joining us, and let's give them a round of applause.


The audacity of the Doolittle Raiders has inspired generations of American aviators.

And it's fitting that the next chapter in American airpower is named in their honor.

The B-21 Raider is the first strategic bomber in more than three decades.

It 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. And so is our uniquely American spirit of innovation and invention.

And if you want to see that strategy in action, if you want to see America's enduring advantages in action, if you want to see integrated deterrence in action—well, just look at this aircraft.

You know, the B-21 looks imposing. But what's under the frame and the space-age coatings is even more impressive.

Let's talk about the B-21's range. No other long-range bomber can match its efficiency. It won't need to be based in-theater. It won't need logistical support to hold any target at risk.

Let's talk about the B-21's stealth. Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft. And even the most sophisticated air-defense systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky.

Let's talk about the B-21's durability. You know, we really don't have a capability unless we can maintain it. And the B-21 is carefully designed to be the most maintainable bomber ever built.

And let's talk about what the B-21 can deliver.

The Raider is designed to deliver both conventional and nuclear munitions, with formidable precision. So like generations of bombers before it, the B-21 will be able to support joint and coalition forces across the full spectrum of operations.

And the Raider was built with an open-system architecture, which makes it highly adaptable. So as the United States continues to innovate, this bomber will be able to defend our country with new weapons that haven't even been invented yet.

And the B-21 is multi-functional. It can handle anything from gathering intel to battle management to integrating with our allies and partners. And it will work seamlessly across domains, and theaters, and across the joint force.

And so that makes it vital to our mission to defend America and deter aggression.

And the B-21's edge will last for decades to come.

America's defense will always be rooted in deterring conflict. So we are again making it plain to any potential foe: the risks and costs of aggression far outweigh any conceivable gains.

Now, we could spend all night marveling at this tremendous aircraft. But I want everyone to know and understand how it came together.

The B-21 is the result of deep teamwork at this plant.

Our Air Force pilots, maintainers, and DOD civilians have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with their industry counterparts. In fact, they've been on the production line here in Palmdale to assist.

So the B-21 is a testament to the best of America's vibrant and diverse industrial base. 

You know, it's this sort of advance that makes us great. And this sort of advance doesn't just happen.

It takes investment. It takes cooperation. And it takes partnership.

The Department is going to continue to invest in tech. We're going to bring new companies into our supplier base. And we're going to keep honing our acquisitions process to get the right capabilities, before we need them.

That's not always easy. But it's always vital.

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 it into production. And we will build the bomber force in numbers suited to the strategic environment ahead.

And finally, this aircraft was possible because of American innovation.

That's something deep in the American spirit. We're driven to keep pushing the limits. We're powered by the boldness of open minds and the confidence of an open society.

And that's a strategic advantage that no competitor can match.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is deterrence the American way.

It's driven by some of America's great strengths—by the openness of our democracy, by partnerships with free enterprise that can deliver unmatched innovation, and by the outstanding men and women in uniform who freely dedicate their lives to keeping our country safe.

You know, back in 1985, at a ceremony at the White House, President Reagan pinned a fourth star on General Doolittle's uniform.

The President recalled the bravery of the Doolittle Raiders. And he said that at a time of great challenge, they had "revitalized America's fighting spirit."

And just a few years after that ceremony, the United States unveiled the B-2 Spirit—right here at this site. And the B-2 reminded the world of what American innovation and airpower could do.

Today, we continue that evolution in our deterrence with the first bomber of the 21st century.

This isn't just another airplane.

It's not just another acquisition.

It is a symbol and a source of the fighting spirit that President Reagan spoke of.

It's the embodiment of America's determination to defend the republic that we all love.

And it's a testament to our strategy of deterrence—with the capabilities to back it up, every time and everywhere.

That's what America does.

And here at Palmdale, you have done it once again.

So thanks, everyone. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.