B-21 Aldings - Intermediate Bomber
Crew: 2 standard, 3 with controller, 0 when automated
Length: 118 ft (36 m)
Wingspan: 76.4 ft (23.3 m)
Empty Weight: 120,000 lbs (54,431 kg)
Loaded Weight: 152,000 lbs (68,946 kg)
Powerplant: 2x Turbofans, 60,000 lbs (180 kN) each
Max Speed: Mach 1.4 at 40,000 feet
Cruise Speed: 920 mph
Range: 5,021 nautical miles (9,300 km)
Service Ceiling: 60,000 ft
Production: 2 test models + 56 production models
Armament: 2 internal bays, up to 32,000 lbs (14,515 kg) of ordnance
Originally developed for the USAF's long range strike requirement, the XB-21 was rejected in favor of the XB-27 Drake. While the Drake was larger and slower, it was a lower-cost design that utilized more off-the-shelf aeronautical components, and had significant parts commonality and design similarities to the widespread C-19 platform, which minimized logistics and personnel training costs. Furthermore, the XB-21's supersonic capability was superfluous in the desired bomber role, while its performance was less than that of contemporary supersonic bombers.
However, India and Australia showed considerable interest in the XB-21 program. They had no prior bomber force, but desired to develop their regional strike capability in response to growing Chinese power. Specifically, they desired a relatively lightweight but high-performance platform capable of striking targets both at sea and within China. The project was revived for the foreign market. Between 2021 and 2022, 32 B-21 Aldings bombers were delivered to India and 14 were delivered to Australia.
During the Pan-Asian War, Indian B-21's inflicted significant damage on Chinese naval forces and shore installations, but the Indian Air Force was unable to penetrate far into China's well-defended airspace. Furthermore, inadequate training was a consistent problem for Indian aircrews, albeit the aircraft's considerable automation allowed a satisfactory mission performance despite this handicap. Nine B-21's were shot down by Chinese forces.
After the conflict, India attempted to purchase ten additional aircraft, and limited construction commenced. In 2024, China prohibited US weapons sales to India. The ten B-21's were completed, however, and Australia purchased six of them. Japan purchased four. After that, production ceased.