Simply Breathtaking: New Official Photos of B-21 Raider Bomber Just Dropped

B-21 Raider New May 2024 Image
May 23, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: B-21 RaiderB-21StealthBomberU.S. Air ForceAir Force

Simply Breathtaking: New Official Photos of B-21 Raider Bomber Just Dropped

The U.S. Air Force released official images of the B-21 Raider in flight, showcasing the new strategic bomber's ongoing testing at Edwards AFB.


Summary: The U.S. Air Force released official images of the B-21 Raider in flight, showcasing the new strategic bomber's ongoing testing at Edwards AFB.

B-21 Raider Images May 2024 Image 2


-This comes after the aircraft’s maiden test flight last year.

-The B-21, a generational advancement over the B-2 Spirit, is part of a program emphasizing production-representative test aircraft.

-Six prototypes are currently in production, yet it remains uncertain if the goal of 100 bombers by 2039 will be met.

-The B-21 is designed for both conventional and nuclear missions.

B-21 Raider Takes Flight: New Images Released by USAF

A handful of photos and even a couple of short videos of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider in flight have already made the rounds on social media. Those were captured by a few lucky individuals, who were able to get a glimpse of the future backbone of the United States Air Force's bomber force in the vicinity of Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California, where the aircraft is now undergoing testing.

However, it was only on Wednesday that the air service's 412th Test Wing released the first "official" images of the Raider taking to the skies. Three images showed the flying wing bomber as it emerged from its shelter at Northrop Grumman's manufacturing facility at Edwards AFB, then as it lifted off (or was possibly landing), and finally and most notably as it was soaring in the wild blue yonder.

The official photos come more than six months after the B-21 Raider successfully made its maiden test flight from the aerospace firm's facility in Palmdale, California where the bomber had been undergoing ground test. The Air Force had announced that no advanced notice would be provided as to when the Raider would make its first flight, but that didn't stop about three dozen aviation enthusiasts from lining up outside Plant 42 in hopes of witnessing the historic moment.

In the months that followed, the B-21 had engaged in numerous test flights, but it was only this week that the Air Force opted to share images of the Raider taking to the skies.

Progress Continues – The B-21 Raider is On Schedule

The Air Force also confirmed that the B-21 Raider is now on track, echoing comments made by Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics during testimony at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 8.

"We are in the flight test program, the flight test program is proceeding well," Hunter said in response to a question about the B-21 program. "It is doing what flight test programs are designed to do, which is helping us learn about the unique characteristics of this platform, but in a very, very effective way."

The dual-capable penetrating strike stealth aircraft will be capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. While similar in appearance to the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the B-21 Raider is actually a generational leap in aircraft technology and development.

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which manages the acquisition program, adopted a strategy that included building the test aircraft as "production-representative" as possible.

"Rather than a traditional flight prototype approach, 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," the service announced.

As previously reported, there are at least six prototype aircraft are in various stages of production, and those are also being built on the same lines, using the same tools and processes that will build the eventual production aircraft.

However, it remains unclear whether the U.S. Air Force will reach the minimum of 100 bombers requested by 2039 – as it would require an annual production of six or seven bombers. To date, the service hasn't disclosed how many aircraft are being produced throughout the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase, which the bombers entered in January.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].