The US Air Force’s first B-21 Raider stealth bomber began ground testing. This prototype could be launched this year for test flight.
Up to now, the US is still the only country in the world that owns a stealth bomber. They currently have 21 B-2 Spirits in service. Recently, the US also said that it has completed the first B-21 Raider stealth strategic bomber prototype.
Ground testing phase at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The B-21 Raider stealth bomber will be tested for the launch system, structural integrity and painted, US Air Force official Darlene Costello revealed on March 4.
The first B-21 prototype will undergo engine testing, getting ready for its maiden flight from Air Force Plant 42 to Edwards Air Force Base in California. Mr. Costello said Northrop Grumman Corporation currently has six B-21 stealth bombers at different stages of production. “We are on track for our first flight and are staying on schedule,” Costello said, without detailing the test plan.
“We are on track for our first flight and are staying on schedule,” Costello said, without detailing the test plan. US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall on March 4 also expressed satisfaction with the progress of the B-21 stealth bomber project. “At least at this stage, the B-21 project is progressing really well,” Kendall said.
Northrop’s Aeronautics Systems President Tom Jones confirmed that the first B-21 stealth bomber is undergoing ground tests. Mr. Jones said Northrop Corporation did a lot of work in the lab to minimize the risk and ensure there were no surprises during the test.
The US Air Force has been tight-lipped for months about its plans to test the B-21, a fifth-generation stealth bomber with a tailless flying wing design, similar to the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was born 21 years ago. The B-21 project has a development cost of about 23.5 billion USD, of which the production cost of each aircraft is about 656 million USD. The first aircraft could enter service in 2025, and will gradually replace the B-2s and part of the B-1B Lancer fleet.
The information comes in the context of many concerns that the B-21 project is behind schedule, seriously affecting the US Air Force’s plan to deploy 225 bombers, of which the main force is still the B-52 and B-21 squadrons. The US Air Force has a total of 21 B-2 Spirits, 45 B-1B Lancers and 76 B-52s, but many of them are not in a ready state.
The Air Force proposed a budget of nearly $2.9 billion for the B-21 program in fiscal year 2022, up $30 million from a year earlier. The B-21 Raider is a 5th generation stealth bomber, possessing the same flying wing design as the B-2 Spirit born in 1989. The US Air Force has not revealed the features of the B-21 series, but it is expected to integrate advanced stealth technology, carry many weapons and be highly automated.
Stealth ability and modern weapons make B-21 known as America’s new generation of stealth assassins. The Pentagon plans to buy 100 B-21 bombers. Although modern, the cost of the B-21 is only one third of the B-2 Spirit.