TechB-21 Raider is getting closer to flight. Ground tests have started

B‑21 Raider is getting closer to flight. Ground tests have started

B-21 Raider
B-21 Raider
Images source: © Northrop Grumman

2:11 PM EDT, October 26, 2023

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that the first B-21 Raider bomber has begun ground testing in preparation for its first flight, which is planned for the end of 2023, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. Pictures have also been leaked online, supposedly showing the craft in front of the secret Plant 42 factory in Palmdale, California.

"Rigorous tests are a key step in the B-21 flight test program," Patrick S. Ryder, a spokesman for the US Air Force, told Air&Space Forces Magazine. He added: "Extensive tests assess systems, components, and functions. These tests allow us to reduce risk, optimize the design, and increase operational efficiency."

B-21 is getting closer to its first flight

From the available information, it appears that Northrop Grumman is currently working on six B-21 Raider models at the secretive Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. However, it is unknown at which stage of production these machines are. So far, the US Air Force has not published any official photos from the tests that were conducted at the end of October. However, a photograph shared by one Reddit user has surfaced online. You can see it below:

The Aviationist service, which deals with military aviation, reported: "Although we cannot fully confirm this, the picture appears to be authentic and unaltered, taken from a location outside the airport". Many elements visible in the photo also indicate that this is the B-21 model, not the B-2, its predecessor. This is seen in details such as the dual-wheel main landing gear, the shape of the entire structure, and its color scheme.

The B-21, a bomber that is set to become one of the pillars of the U.S. nuclear triad (alongside submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles), first saw the light of day in 2022. Initial plans suggested it would also be tested in 2022, but this deadline has since been moved to the end of 2023. So far, little is known about the specifics of the machine itself and its capabilities. However, it is certain that the B-21 is a solution crafted using stealth technology and a flying wing design.

US Air Force has high hopes for the B-21, especially since it is the first bomber unveiled in over 30 years. Its creators believe that the B-21 Raider can carry the most advanced weaponry and penetrate the enemy's toughest anti-air defense to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world. However, its role will not be limited to bombing missions. The machine is also intended to be used for reconnaissance, electronic warfare, battlefield management, and communication relays.

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