Published On: Wed, Mar 23rd, 2022

B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber to Make First Test Flights this Year

B-21 “Raider” is the next-generation long range strike-bomber aircraft developed by the Northrop Grumman corporation. And there are reasons to believe it will be the stealthiest aircraft ever built.

U.S. military plans to build at least 100 hundred units. The first “Raider” has already been assembled and moved to the testing facility for the last series of procedures before powering systems and performing the first flight. The first flight is expected sometime this year.

This rendering highlights the future stealth bomber B-21 (U.S. Air Force graphic)

This rendering highlights the future stealth bomber B-21 (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The B-21 is seen as a successor to the U.S. Rockwell B-1 “Lancer”, Northrop Grumman B-2 “Spirit”, and Boeing B-52 “Stratofortress” airplanes. According to the current plans, B-21 will be versatile, i.e. capable of performing “conventional” roles, and also act as a carrier of the nuclear weapons. First models will be manned, but future development phases also include remotely-operated and (possibly) completely unmanned versions.

The new stealth bomber will feature a novel coating that minimizes its detectability and performs on a higher efficiency level compared to previous generations of stealth aircraft. This coating will also be much more resistant to environmental impacts, which will greatly reduce the costs of maintenance.

In addition to the first nearly completed unit, there are five more in the production stage. The design process is primarily based on an open systems architecture and model-based systems engineering, with aim to avoid compatibility issues when making necessary future upgrades, while also saving money and time.

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