Air Force unveils photos of B-21 Raider in flight as nuclear stealth bomber moves closer to deployment

The U.S. armed forces have published pictures of the B-21 Raider airborne as the state-of-the-art aircraft advances towards becoming the country’s new nuclear stealth bomber. The B-21 Raider embarked on flight trials at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Air Force noted in a declaration, as the jet “continues to advance towards becoming the backbone of the U.S. Air Force bomber fleet.” One snapshot captures the aircraft gliding above the clouds, while another portrays the plane just above the runway.


A B-21 Raider undergoes ground testing, taxiing, and flight operations at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif

United States Air Force

The Air Force plans to construct 100 of these aircraft, which possess a flying wing design akin to their forerunner, the B-2 Spirit, but will integrate advanced materials, propulsion, and stealth technology to enhance their survivability in future conflicts. The plane is envisioned to be produced in both piloted and unmanned versions.

“We are in the flight testing program, and the program is progressing well,” Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, mentioned during a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this month. “It is performing what flight testing programs are intended to do, assisting us in understanding the unique traits of this platform in a highly effective manner.” The B-21 Raider is the initial new American bomber aircraft in over three decades, and almost every component of the program is classified. Both Northrop Grumman and the Air Force have endeavored to safeguard the program’s specifics to prevent China from obtaining the weapon’s technology and creating a similar model, as it has with other U.S. advanced weapon systems, such as the F-35 joint strike fighter.

The Air Force stated that the B-21 is “the first aircraft that is more digital than not.”


A B-21 Raider undergoes ground testing, taxiing, and flight operations at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif

United States Air Force

During the aircraft’s unveiling in December 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted that the B-21’s range is unparalleled by any other bomber. “It won’t need to be stationed in-theater; it won’t require logistical backing to target any objective,” the secretary said. Austin also remarked that it will be challenging for foes to detect the stealth airplane.

“Five decades of advancements in low-observable technology have culminated in this aircraft,” he stated. “Even the most advanced air-defense systems will face difficulties detecting a B-21 in the air.”

United States Bomber First Flight

The B-21 Raider stealth bomber is unveiled at Northrop Grumman, Dec. 2, 2022, in Palmdale, Calif

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

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