Key Point: The B-21 has entered its latest stage of development, bringing it one step closer to fruition.
The Air Force is now building its first “test” aircraft of the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber aircraft engineered to elude the most advanced air defenses for decades to come and destroy high-value targets over enemy territory -- without being seen.
“We’re closely monitoring the build of the additional test aircraft and associated software to support the first flight,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told an audience at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
As for the timing of the first flight and many of the acquisition specifics, they are not available simply because the program is largely secret, in an obvious effort to prevent enemies from getting a jump-start on how they may seek to counter the aircraft. Although few details are known, engineers, observers, program managers and Air Force flag officers are all very clear -- this new bomber will introduce stealth technology the likes of which the world has never seen.
Following a successful critical design review, which closely analyzed many of the aircraft’s technologies, configurations and weapons, the Air Force has brought the program into its Engineering Manufacturing and Design phase - the point in the process where weapons and systems are built.
Much of the construction and prototyping likely involves subsystems, avionics and weapons integration, test aircraft manufacturing, of course, also includes engineering the stealth bomber’s external configuration.