The US Air Force’s B-21 Raider bomber is projected to take its maiden flight in 2023, Northrop Grumman announced, citing the service.
The projection is at least six months later than earlier reported by Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director Randall Walden.
Quoting a service spokeswoman, Airforce Magazine wrote that the new estimate “reflects the current status of the program.” She did not state the reason for the delay.
The B-21 “remains within its acquisition program baseline for cost, schedule, and performance established at Milestone B award, which was based on an independent government estimate for the program,” she told the outlet.
Load Calibration Test Completed
Meanwhile, the stealth aircraft completed “the first — and most critical — loads calibration test” in early May.
“Loads calibration, which focuses on calibrating instrumentation prior to flight and verifying structural integrity, has yielded positive and consistent results,” Northrop wrote.
“During testing, the B-21’s airframe endures varying percentages of stress to ensure the aircraft can proceed on its path to flight readiness.”
Rollout This Year
The test is one of the three major stages the aircraft will go through before its maiden flight.
After the load calibration, aircraft subsystems will be tested, followed by the application of coatings and paint. Thereafter, the aircraft will carry out “engine runs as well as low-speed and high-speed taxi tests.” The aircraft is projected to roll out later this year.
A total of six nuclear-capable B-21s are in various stages of production. Delivery is expected to begin in the mid-2020s.