US Air Force’s B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber Completes Maiden Flight

The US Air Force has announced that its B-21 Raider stealth bomber completed its inaugural flight on November 10.

First planned in May 2022, the test flight follows ground trials and extensive laboratory evaluation to reduce risk and “ensure no surprises pop up” during the maiden flight.

A video captured uploaded on X (formerly Twitter) shows the futuristic warplane flying over Palmdale, California, where it has reportedly been under rigorous testing and development.

The B-21 was accompanied by an F-16 chase plane during the trial.

In a statement following the maiden flight, air force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told reporters how important the new milestone is for the development of the much-awaited bomber.

“Flight testing is a critical step in the test campaign managed by the Air Force Test Center and 412th Test Wing’s B-21 Combined Test Force to provide survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners,” she said.

Moving a Step Closer

Developed by Northrop Grumman, the B-21 is the first new bomber aircraft in the US Air Force inventory in more than 30 years.

It is highly classified to prevent China and other adversaries from gaining access to its weapons and technologies and building a rival version.

Military officials have praised the capabilities of the new aircraft, with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying no other long-range bomber can match the Raider’s efficiency and durability.

In a separate statement, Northrop said the recent flight test validated the aircraft’s digital models and “moves us another step closer to reaching operational capability.”

The world’s second stealth bomber is expected to be operational in the mid-2020s.

Multi-Functional Platform

In a rollout ceremony last year, Austin emphasized that the B-21’s “flying wing” shape and stealth components are designed to minimize aircraft signature and make it harder for adversaries to detect.

It is also built with an open system architecture, allowing for easy integration of future weapons and components.

“The B-21 is multi-functional. It can handle anything from gathering intel to battle management,” the defense secretary stated.

The US Air Force plans to build 100 B-21s to support future missions.

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