Watch USAF's new B-21 stealth bomber take its first flight

Video footage has emerged of the B-21 Raider, a new sixth generation stealth bomber under development at Northrop Grumman for the US Air Force, flying for the first time.

Nearly a year since its formal unveiling at a ceremony at the company's California production facilities in December 2022, the footage has emerged of the aircraft's first flight on 10th November near USAF's Plant 42 classified aircraft manufacturing plant.

Details of the flight are explained in the above video's description: "Bearing call sign RAIDER 01 with RAIDER 03 F-16D as chase, it flew to Edwards AFB after a short test flight. A few hours later, B-2A Spirit LEHI 23 departed for an FCF in the high desert. Very cool to see both stealth flying wings in the AV area where they are proudly made."

The B-21's test programme is managed by the Air Force Test Center and 412th Test Wing’s B-21 Combined Test Force, including Northrop Grumman employees.

There are six B-21s in various states of production so far
There are six B-21s in various states of production so far

Northrop Grumman describes the B-21 as the next evolution of the US Air Force strategic bomber fleet, providing USAF long range, high survivability and mission payload flexibility. The B-21 will also penetrate the toughest defenses for precision strikes anywhere in the world.

USAF awarded the B-21 Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract to Northrop Grumman in October 2015. Northrop Grumman’s partners on the programme include Pratt & Whitney, Janicki Industries, Collins Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, BAE Systems and Spirit Aerosystems.

The B-21 is a penetrating strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. It will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21s and B-52s. Designed to operate in a high-end threat environment, the B-21 is intended to play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.

The B-21 Raider will be a component of a larger family of systems for conventional Long Range Strike, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, electronic attack, communication and other capabilities. It will be nuclear capable and designed to accommodate manned or unmanned operations. Additionally, it will be able to employ a broad mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions.

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