B-21 Raider Bomber – Photos by Matt Hartman
Written by Michael Marrow
Washington The B-21 Raider, America’s newest stealth bomber, made its maiden flight. The Northrop Grumman bomber was captured today on freelance photographer Matt Hartman’s camera as it soared over the California desert. The B-21 was accompanied by a fighter plane acting as a courtship.
An Air Force spokesman confirmed that the Ryder aircraft had entered the flight test phase. The new bomber was officially introduced to the public in December 2022. In the video below shot by Matt Hartman, we can see the B-21 Raider in passing.
“The B-21 Raider is undergoing flight testing,” Air Force spokeswoman Anne Stefanik told Breaking Defense in a statement today. “The flight tests are a critical step in the testing campaign managed by the Air Force Test Center and the 412th Test Wing’s B-21 Joint Test Force to provide penetrating, long-range, survivable capabilities to thwart aggression and strategic attacks against U.S. nations, allies, and partners.”
The Raider is scheduled to replace the stealthy B-2 Spirit and B-1 Lancer. The Air Force plans a fleet of at least 100 long-range bombers, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota will be the first facility to receive the aircraft, according to Stefanik. There are six test aircraft in production and the tests will be conducted by Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The program is “on track to deliver aircraft to Ellsworth Air Force Base in the mid-2020s,” Stefanik said.
Northrop Grumman has long warned investors that low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the aircraft could result in a loss of up to $1.2 billion, something CEO Cathy Warden reiterated on Northrop Grumman’s recent third-quarter earnings call. The Air Force has tied the LRIP contract award to the aircraft’s maiden flight, meaning the contract could be awarded soon.
Northrop said in a company statement: “As confirmed by the US Air Force, the B-21 Raider is undergoing flight testing. The robust flight test campaign is being conducted by a joint test force comprised of personnel from Northrop Grumman and the Air Force who will validate our digital models and move us one step closer to achieving operational capability.
Translation and adaptation: Dan
Source: Breaking Defense
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