Lazy eyes listen
The United States Air Force has conducted the first test flight of a new long-range stealth bomber, one of six operational prototypes set to be produced by Northrop Grumman.
The B-21 Raider was spotted flying over Northrop’s Palmdale, California research facility on Friday afternoon, with footage captured by aviation photographer Matt Hartman.
The flight was later confirmed by the Air Force, who described it as “a critical first step in the test campaign managed by the Air Force Test Centre and the 412th Test Wing’s B-21 Combined Test Force.” The new planes will “provide survivable, long-range penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners,” according to Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek.
Part of the Pentagon’s Long Range Strike Bomber program launched in 2011, the B-21 is expected to enter service sometime in 2027, according to Lt. Gen. James C. Dawkins, deputy chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration. Officials hope the jet will replace several aging bombers over the coming decades, including the B-1 Lancer, the B-52 Stratofortress and the B-2 Spirit.
Northrop Grumman, which also designed the B-2, acknowledged Friday’s test flight in a statement, saying it would “validate our digital models” and marks “another step closer to reaching operational capability.”