Northrop Grumman’s B-21 makes first flight
Northrop Grumman’s B-21 strategic stealth bomber aircraft made its first flight on 10 November, less than a year after it was officially unveiled.
It was reported by observers that the aircraft took off from US Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, just before 7am in a flight that concluded at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California after 90 minutes. It flew east from Palmdale with a chase plane.
Northrop Grumman said: ‘As confirmed by US Air Force, the B-21 Raider is in flight test and is being executed by a Combined Test Force comprised of Northrop Grumman and USAF personnel that will validate our digital models and moves us another step closer to reaching operational capability.’
The aircraft, the world’s first sixth-generation stealth bomber, was unveiled on 2 December last year and has marked the first time the US has rolled out a new bomber in more than three decades. At the time, Northrop Grumman said six aircraft were in final assembly.
The test flight had been looming following powering on of systems in July and engine tests in August before an announcement this month that taxi testing had taken place.
At the time, the company said first flight was expected in 2023 and the aircraft made its first flight within the programme deadline despite were fears that the deadline could be pushed back.
The US Air Force will aim to acquire 21 low-rate initial production aircraft in five lots following two or three test platforms and could eventually procure as many as 100 aircraft.
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