USAF Releases New Flight Test Photos Of B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber

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With an eye toward service entry later this decade, the U.S. Air Force released new photos of its developmental B-21 stealth bomber yesterday (May 22). Shot this past January and as late as last month, the pictures reveal images of the new aircraft in flight and ground tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Located in the high desert north of Los Angeles, Edwards AFB (then known as Muroc) is the same location where Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947 in the Bell X-1.

The B-21 Raider is the first new stealth bomber design to come along in more than three decades and will incrementally replace B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers in the Air Force inventory. The project launched in 2015 and the Pentagon made the Raider public in an unveiling late in 2022. First flight was in November last year, followed by clearance to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP).

Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Andrew Hunter said the flight test program is on track to meet timelines and ultimate entry-into-service targets. “It is doing what the flight-test programs are designed to do,” Hunter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 8, “which is helping us learn about the unique characteristics of this platform, but in a very, very effective way.”

According to the USAF 412th Test Wing, “B-21 test aircraft are built including mission systems using the same manufacturing processes and tooling for production aircraft. This approach in development laid the groundwork for production to start more quickly.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

14 COMMENTS

  1. It’s really quite funny to see a replacement for the B-52 replacements while the B-52s are ‘replaced’ by upgrading the B-52s!

  2. Wonder when the Chinese will release their “stolen plans” version? Probably pretty soon, as I’m sure they already “stole” them.

  3. Hunter sold them the plans but unless they have the materials science (which they Don’t) The plans won’t do them much good.

  4. Yes I do. General Milley, while he was in, said he told the CCP he would notify them if we were going to start anything. I truly believe there are plenty of America haters that would do this. Last week the DHS invited the Cubans to Miami to view our airport security methods. They got a 5 hour briefing on TSA protocols.

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