B-21 Raider nuclear bomber to be unveiled in December
Northrop Grumman and the US Air Force have announced that the B-21 Raider strategic heavy nuclear strike bomber will make its public debut at an invitation-only event in the first week of December at Northrop's Palmdale, California facility.
Since 2015, when the United States Department of Defense awarded the contract to Northrop to design and build the B-21 as a replacement for the B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, and B-2 Spirit bombers, the project has been marked by its secrecy. Even though six prototypes are under construction, little is known for certain about the bomber.
What is known is that the subsonic B-21 is being developed using digital engineering and incorporates advanced stealth design, including a new radar-absorbent coating that is easier and cheaper to maintain than that of the B-2. When it enters service around 2027, it will augment the third leg of the US nuclear deterrent force and eventually replace the entire strategic bomber fleet as the older aircraft are retired from service in the middle of the century.
According to Northrop and the Air Force, the maiden flight of the B-21 is scheduled for 2023, though the official date will be based on the outcome of planned ground tests that include powering up the aircraft, flight subsystems tests, applying the special radar-absorbing coatings and paint, and low- and high-speed taxi tests.
"The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence," said Doug Young, sector vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. "The Raider showcases the dedication and skills of the thousands of people working every day to deliver this aircraft."
Source: Northrop Grumman