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USAF chief bullish on digital design solutions for B-21, Sentinel programmes

The B-21 Raider programme is using digital design and collaboration. (Northrop Grumman)

US Air Force (USAF) chief of staff General Charles Brown said on 22 June that he would like to see a collaborative and digital approach continue across the air force following positive results on its use with the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber and LGM-35A Sentinel next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

At a Hudson Institute talk, Gen Brown said the collaboration between airmen set to operate the platforms, acquisition officials, and industry partners, enabled by digital design and engineering, helps solve potential issues early in the design process.

“You've probably watched programmes over the years, what happens is we have another good idea. We keep adding those good ideas on, which drives cost and schedule issues versus going, ‘here's what you can really get done'”, he said.

“And if you're using a digital approach, then you can actually continue to upgrade and modify, particularly if it's software based, and make adjustments to the design before you actually start bending metal,” he continued.

The B-21 and LGM-35A Sentinel are the air and ground legs of the Pentagon's nuclear triad. The B-21 is expected to replace the B-2 Spirit and B-1B Lancer bomber fleets. The LGM-35A Sentinel, formerly known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), is to replace the Boeing LGM-30G Minuteman III.

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