USAF to unveil B-21 Raider bomber first week in December

USAF to unveil B-21 Raider bomber first week in December

By Dario Leone
Sep 21 2022
Share this article

The USAF confirmed it plans to reveal the B-21 Raider in the first week of December during an unveiling ceremony hosted and sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Corporation at its production facilities in Palmdale, California.

The US Air Force (USAF) confirmed in a Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs News Release on Sep. 21, 2022 it plans to reveal the B-21 Raider in the first week of December during an unveiling ceremony hosted and sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Corporation at its production facilities in Palmdale, California.

As already reported, the USAF has postponed the B-21 Raider stealth bomber first flight to 2023, pushing back at least six months from the previously expected timetable.

A service spokeswoman said on May 20 that “Recently, the Air Force released a new estimate for first flight; projected for next year, 2023.” The service said it’s trying to be as “transparent” as it can be about the project, and “this estimate reflects the current status of the program.” The spokeswoman did not attribute the delay to any particular cause. Many other high-profile programs, such as Boeing’s T-7A trainer, have recently reported delays due to supply chain issues and labor shortages.

She added that 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.”

Lt. Gen. David S. Nahom told the House Armed Services Committee on May 19 the USAF is eyeing as many as 145 B-21s.

The B-21 Raider is being developed to replace the Air Force’s aging B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit aircraft to form a two-bomber fleet of B-21s and modified B-52s. The B-21 will be a long-range, highly survivable bomber aircraft capable of carrying a variety of mixed conventional munitions or nuclear ordinance.

The B-21 Raider will be capable of penetrating the toughest defenses to deliver precision strikes anywhere in the world, playing a vital role in America’s national security.

Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, has been selected as the location to host the Air Force’s first operational B-21 Raiders and the formal training unit in June 2021.

Three years ago, the plan was for the B-2 and B-1 to retire in 2031 and 2032, respectively. But Nahom told the HASC those dates depend on progress with the B-21, and pledged they will not retire until they “shake hands” with the B-21s that replace them.

Since contract award, the Air Force has said the B-21 will be a “available” for combat use in the “mid-2020s.”

“The unveiling of the B-21 Raider will be a historic moment for our Air Force and the nation,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “We last introduced a new bomber over 30 years ago. As we look to the threats posed by our pacing challenge; we must continue to rapidly modernize. The B-21 Raider will provide formidable combat capability across a range of operations in highly contested environments of the future.”

The Department of the Air Force is investing in the aircraft’s long-range strike capability as part of its seven Operational Imperatives as it develops the advanced communications, sensors, and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems needed to deter our adversaries and prevail in combat.

We must invest in long-range strike in a highly contested environment by integrating the B-21 bomber with advanced communications, sensors, and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems.

After unveiling, the B-21 program will continue its rigorous testing campaign with a combined team of professionals from the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, and Northrop Grumman. Their work will verify performance and identify areas for improvement for the weapon system.

“The B-21 program is a powerful example of America’s long experience with fielding advanced military technology through an innovative, adaptable and efficient defense industrial base,” said Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “The Air Force made the decision early in the life of the program to make the flight test aircraft production representative, which is paying dividends as we look towards first flight.”

The B-21 weapon system is manufactured under the Air Force’s contract with Northrop Grumman. It is designed with an open systems architecture, enabling rapid insertion of mature technologies, and allowing the aircraft to remain effective as threats evolve over time.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

USAF releases new B-21 Raider artist rendering with Edwards Air Force Base as the backdrop

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article


Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.



    Share this article
    Back to top
    This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate.
    Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices