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    B-21 Raider: America’s New Stealth Bomber Soars in Second Test Flight

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    The B-21 Raider, the United States’ next-generation stealth bomber, has achieved a new milestone in its flight testing program.

    Gen. CQ Brown Jr highlighted the B-21 Raider as an example of successful design implementation for the Air Force under “Action Order D” of his goal to Accelerate Change. Image 2 of 2” by U.S. Air Force is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

    The futuristic aircraft, designed to fortify America’s long-range strike capabilities, completed its second known test flight, marking another step towards operational readiness and reinforcing its role as a centerpiece in modernizing the nation’s nuclear triad.

    Crafted by Northrop Grumman and under development in Palmdale, California, the B-21 successfully conducted a flight on January 17th.

    The Air Force Test Wing’s B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, situated close to Northrop’s facility, is diligently managing the test campaign to ensure the B-21 fulfills its mission to provide “survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners,” as stated by Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

    The Air Force’s plan to build 100 B-21 Raiders, each at a target unit cost significantly lower than its stealth predecessor, the B-2 Spirit, reflects a strategic investment in advanced materials, propulsion, and stealth technology.

    “We are in the flight test program, the flight test program is proceeding well,” Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, mentioned in his testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.

    “It is doing what flight test programs are designed to do, which is helping us learn about the unique characteristics of this platform, but in a very, very effective way.”

    Hunter also highlighted the plane will be the first-of-its-kind to be “more digital than not” to meet certain, unspecified requirements.

    The US military has announced ordering at least 100 of the 132-foot wide, 70,000 lbs stealth bombers from Northrop Grumman, aiming to start deploying the initial batch in the upcoming years.

    The stealth bomber is poised to replace the aging B-1B Lancers and to operate alongside the venerable B-52 Stratofortresses, which will continue their service as per current USAF plans.

    The B-21’s design, which echoes the flying wing shape of the B-2, is expected to be more maintainable and survivable, with Northrop Grumman emphasizing its ease of maintenance, which should allow the B-21 to be a “daily flyer”.

    Furthermore, the bomber is being produced in variants with and without pilots, showcasing the program’s adaptability to future warfare requirements.

    During the bomber’s debut in December 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the B-21’s range surpasses that of any other bomber.

    Former USAF Chief of Staff General Charles Brown labeled the Raider as the “backbone of our bomber fleet”, a statement that underscores its anticipated role in U.S. defense strategy.

    With six Raider airframes at various stages of production and testing, and the first operational bombers expected to be stationed at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota in the mid-2020s

    Relevant articles:
    The Air Force’s new nuclear stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, has taken its first test flight, AP News
    Northrop Grumman, Northrop Grumman
    B-21 completes second known test flight, FlightGlobal
    Air Force’s top-secret ‘flying wing’ nuclear stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, takes its first test flight, Wisconsin State Journal

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