Name the Air Force’s next long range bomber!

The Air Force has released an artist’s rendition of its new long range bomber, to be built by Northrop Grumman at $564 million a pop.

Breaking with recent tradition – the B-1 and B-2, for example – the aircraft has been officially designated the B-21, evoking the current century. Still needed: A name.

And so Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has put out the call.

“We have an image, we have a designation, but here’s what we don’t yet have, we don’t yet have a name,” she said in a speech at an air warfare symposium in Orlando. “This is where I am challenging and I’m calling on every airman today, 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.”

Given Long Island’s proud aviation history, and that some parts of the aircraft may end up being manufactured on Long Island, we thought you should be included. Send your suggestions to editor@innovateli.com and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the Air Force brass.

Some background: History buffs will know there was a previous B-21, a medium-range bomber built by North American Aviation in 1936. Actually, only one was built. The prototype competed against the Douglas B-18 Bolo for an Army Air Corps contract and lost so thoroughly that the service cancelled its order for four more test models.

But not before the plane had been nicknamed the Dragon, which some aviation enthusiasts would like to resurrect for the new bomber.

It’s unlikely to be much of a hit with Northrop. North American Aviation merged with Rockwell International in 1967 and subsequently became part of Boeing, Northrop’s chief rival and a sore loser on the B-21 contract.

Best to skip Dragon, in other words.