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Frank Kendall: Air Force Drops Plans to Build Unmanned B-21 Counterpart

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Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service has decided to cancel the drone wingman concept for the B-21 Raider bomber after carrying out some analysis, Breaking Defense reported Saturday.

The idea of a similar range collaborative combat aircraft is not turning out to be cost effective, so it looks like we’re not going to go that direction,” Kendall, a three-time Wash100 Award winner, told the publication in an exclusive interview at an event in London.

Bombers are typically large aircraft and he said the idea of building an unmanned counterpart of B-21 seems to be “less attractive than we thought it might be” because a drone of that size could drive cost.

For relatively small platforms, taking a crew out can make it much cheaper,” said Kendall, who first announced the wingman concept in December.

But for large platforms, you don’t gain that much because the crew is only a small fraction of the weight, a small fraction of the cost by comparison,” he added.

The Air Force intends to procure at least 100 units of the Northrop Grumman-built B-21 Raider bomber.

Kendall is scheduled to deliver the keynote address during the Potomac Officers Club’s 2022 Air Force Summit on July 26. Visit the POC Events page to learn more about the upcoming in-person event.

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