The US Air Force has released the first images of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber during flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The B-21 Raider began its flight testing last autumn.

Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the US Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, reported that the testing is proceeding as planned. “We are in the flight test programme, the flight test programme is proceeding well,” Hunter stated.

“It is helping us learn about the unique characteristics of this platform in a very effective way.”

Hunter also highlighted that the B-21 is the first aircraft to extensively integrate digital technology, as discussed during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider allows for the rapid incorporation of new technologies, ensuring the aircraft remains effective as threats evolve. Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer, has developed the B-21 with next-generation stealth technology, enabling it to deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads.

The B-21 is intended to replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, supporting US national security objectives and assuring allies and partners worldwide.

The B-21 is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s, with a production goal of at least 100 aircraft. Northrop Grumman emphasises the B-21’s capability to employ a mix of stand-off and direct attack munitions, enhancing its effectiveness.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_821193)
1 month ago

looks like an alien spececraft

davetrousers
davetrousers (@guest_821214)
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Looks like a B2

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_821194)
1 month ago

people living in Roswell will think that the aliens are back again

Jim
Jim (@guest_821195)
1 month ago

While I am loath to buy any further US weapon systems given Trumps re ascendancy to the throne I could see a purchase of a small B21 fleet being very worthwhile for the UK. Being the only other operator in the world of a stealthy strategic bomber would really separate the UK from other middle powers and it would allow us to offer a substantial conventional threat to the Russians if they start lobbing cruise missiles from submarines at us one day. There has to be some benefit to being America’s third most important ally, unlike Israel we woukd actually… Read more »

backaftie
backaftie (@guest_821206)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

that’s what i thought as well, around 30? 2 x squadron’s of 12 and 6 spares.
Tempest for fighter/interceptor role.
F35b for carrier use (assuming cats and traps don’t get installed)

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_821270)
1 month ago
Reply to  backaftie

Good luck at an current estimated $750million a pop.

Branaboy
Branaboy (@guest_821280)
1 month ago
Reply to  backaftie

Would be cheaper for UK to develop its own semi stealth bomber. Take old Vulcan design, remove vertical tail, use flight controls and software from tempest program, use 4 modified EJ200 engines from Typhoon neatly buried in wing root have bomb bay size of Victor and voila you have a UK semi stealth bomber for have the price of the B21 😳😃😎

Chris
Chris (@guest_821286)
1 month ago
Reply to  Branaboy

The Vulcan is not semi-stealthy

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821353)
1 month ago
Reply to  Branaboy

Vulcan 2, simples, love it l! 😂

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_822948)
1 month ago
Reply to  backaftie

In the unlikely event money could be found, an RAF purchase of B-21 would be like C-17 i.e. a single sqn of 8.

Katmandoo
Katmandoo (@guest_821208)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

On that point… does the UK have bomber aircraft anymore?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821361)
1 month ago
Reply to  Katmandoo

We phased out strategic bombers in the 1980s – the last Vulcans went in late 1982, I believe. Typhoons and F-35Bs can of course carry bombs – tactical bombing.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821393)
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I’d read that Tempest is going to be a big girl. Not Vulcan sized sure, but big for a fighter.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821422)
1 month ago

Thanks. I had not been following the Tempest story – think I will now. A mock-up was exhibited at DSEi in 2019 but of course the real thing may well be much different.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_821436)
1 month ago

It looks like it will be quite big – like the B21 should be able to deliver Ordanance at range using Stealth.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821447)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

Yes, I’d read of it needing good range and size for ordnance and for controlling UAV.
Like a light bomber.
We shall see.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821298)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Pure fantasy fleets Jim.

Jim
Jim (@guest_821394)
1 month ago

Yes, but I can dream 😀

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821398)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Sure, would make sense for a nation of our stature.
Not sure where you’d bade them as the cost of the specialised infrastructure alone would be prohibitive.
I always supported getting a small Sqn of F117s. At least that did have some basis in reality.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821698)
1 month ago

If strategic bombers make sense for our country, why phase them out in 1982 and not replace the V-Force?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_822367)
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi mate. Not getting notifications for many posts, so sorry for a late reply. I think in the 80s through the rest of the Cold War we were so Europe NATO, Warsaw Pact focused, so having a bomber for expeditionary, long range, further afield roles was seen as unnecessary. And they were old, legacy aircraft, Victor also served on for a while as AAR aircraft. Deterrent went to the RN. Tornado GR1 was delivered in bulk for Strike, Interdiction into Eastern Europe. Even the RNs “proper” carriers went to be replaced by the small Invincibles for Atlantic ASW work. Post… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_822987)
1 month ago

Hi mate. The nuclear deterrent had switched from the V-force to the RN from mid-’68, but the V-bombers soldiered on for quite a time, probably because they could drop conventional bombs on Soviet targets, which Polaris could not do. Clearly it was felt in the late 70s/early 80s that it was necessary to retire the last of the V-force in 1982 (after Op Corporate/Black Buck) and not replace it by another long-range (ie Target Moscow!, not Eastern Europe) strategic bomber with conventional bombs, even though the Cold War was still in progress. I agree with your point that F-117 would… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821360)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, how many should the UK buy? Then cost it out – it will be totally unaffordable.

Jim
Jim (@guest_821395)
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

7 a good number, about $4-5 billion. That’s about 8% of one years defence budget.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821653)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Usually an RAF squadron is 12 aircraft, then you need some for the OCU and some for the attrition reserve. That would make 18-20.

Andy a
Andy a (@guest_826377)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The cost of buying a running a squadron of these would result in loosing say three squadrons of fighters that are far more use.
bombers are one trick pony’s that our limited budget will no longer stretch too

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_821196)
1 month ago

How about scrapping the F35 orders and buying one of these?

DP
DP (@guest_821218)
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Just one! 😆 We’d still be constrained by the interoperability issues of a US supplier and US military, effectively dictating which weapons fit comes first.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_821287)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Just the one. Should be avaiable by 2040 in line with our new target dates. 😉

DP
DP (@guest_821288)
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

🤣

Nevis
Nevis (@guest_821256)
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Not enough pilots

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_821285)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

😀

Chris
Chris (@guest_821226)
1 month ago

The RAF should buy 10 of these for strategic nuclear deterrent and long range strike. It would make strikes in Yemen a walk in the park – non stop from the UK, lessening the need to use a carrier.

The US has already offered them to Australia.

Paul42
Paul42 (@guest_821228)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Agreed, this would be of a major benefit to the UK, although considering maintenance requirements you might need 12-14. But, and its a big BUT, as we’re always skint, could we afford it?

Chris
Chris (@guest_821235)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

It uses the same engine as the F-35, so there would be some existing support footprint.

All the tankers would need to be upgraded with the airbus Boom system. That’s going to be expensive, but it would also benefit the C17, P-8 and E-7 fleets.

Bob
Bob (@guest_821294)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Some (at least) of the tankers should be upgraded anyway.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821383)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

I thought we are all wanting some extra P-8 and E-7s first? Lol 😂

DaveyB.
DaveyB. (@guest_821242)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

For long range strategic strike it is the only realistic option, that may soon be on the table. There are no other strategic bombers being manufactured or designed by a Western nation. Although there is also the Rapid Dragon concept. Where you use a transport aircraft to deliver weapons from the tail ramp. However, that is only feasible when you have spare transport aircraft available and not on traditional logistics taskings. If we were reliant on the A400M, we would be up the creek without a paddle, as the aircraft are so unreliable. There is a caveat here though. Do… Read more »

Chris
Chris (@guest_821277)
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

You aren’t launching and building a strategic bomber program for less cost than buying 10 B-21. There is a massive misunderstanding on this website as to the costs of launching and delivering an airplane program.

It also must be stealthy. At strategic stand off ranges there is no ability to suppress enemy air defenses., something like an A400 would be dead instantly.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821362)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Would an A400M Atlas fly into well-defended enemy airspace?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_821281)
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

What BWB aircraft or project are you referring to? As you say it would be cheaper than a B-21 one presumes you have something specific in mind to compare to it.

Malcolm Featherstone
Malcolm Featherstone (@guest_822296)
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

New Build Vulcans with Typhoon avionics and un-reheated EJ200s?

FieldLander
FieldLander (@guest_821386)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

No. Equal to 3x T31s each at original price point. Carry on with the fantasy fleet planning.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821260)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

👍 Agreed, although would recommend the purchase of a full squadron by the RAF. Sale wold be authorized under the auspices of AUKUS. RAF would presumably execute an aerial refueling agreement w/ USAF on an interim basis until own tankers modified. Win-win proposition, though there is that trivial matter of the bill…🤔😳😉

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_821417)
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

We don’t need them(however AUS/JPN/CAN??), a far better option for us would have been something like a cross between a F111 Aardvark and HS Buccaneer with a larger bomb bay – would go like shit of a shovel at tree top height, whats not to like!!

Malcolm Featherstone
Malcolm Featherstone (@guest_822297)
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

New build Buccaneers with Typhoon avionics and EJ200s…

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_822312)
1 month ago

Yes, that would do it also.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_821266)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Why B21?

Why RAF don’t instead setup A400 and C17 with long range missile launchers? Say launch ATACMS from the air will probably triple the range.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlexS
Chris
Chris (@guest_821279)
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

You can’t fly a C-17 or A400 within 1,000 miles of Moscow and expect to live. The B-21 is was the US calls a “1st night” aircraft, similar to the B-2 and F-117. It’s key role is to suppress enemy air defenses to let in the more vulnerable assets.

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_821304)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Why? Slow drones don’t seem to have any problems😂

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_821327)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Build missiles with 1001 miles range. You spend less money and will have many more weapons capable of hitting the enemy, you can update/upgrade/develop your missiles much faster than a B-21.

And if you need more aircrafts just buy some Airbus.

Chris
Chris (@guest_821364)
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Right, and I assume you will be the first to volunteer on these one way suicide missions.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan (@guest_821365)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

The US has not offered the B-21 to Australia. A former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is pushing the idea but he’s in the minority and it’s unlikely the House or Senate would approve the idea.
Besides, Australia can’t afford them, and neither can the UK.

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_821416)
1 month ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Which in Australia’s case is an absolute crying shame matey. What they don’t need is the F35 in any configuration, but have had to purchase.
A mix od B21/F15ex would have been a far better mix for them, notwithstanding costs, timings and the ability to purchase them.
The US should also look towards selling some to both Japan and Canada if it is really serious about stunting China’s expansionism.

Patrick C
Patrick C (@guest_821603)
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Trudeau would turn them into housing for immigrants.

Deep32
Deep32 (@guest_821686)
1 month ago
Reply to  Patrick C

Looks a tad cramped to me, very modern but cramped!😂

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821924)
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

😁

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821927)
1 month ago
Reply to  Patrick C

😁

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821926)
1 month ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

The US is already handing the keys to the technological kingdom to the Brits and Aussies, through joint cooperation on SSN-A design and various Pillar 2 Initiatives. Really don’t perceive an issue from a tech transfer perspective. Acquisition cost by either is the real show stopper.

D.Roberts
D.Roberts (@guest_821239)
1 month ago

$778 million a pop

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821363)
1 month ago
Reply to  D.Roberts

That is just for the aircraft. Then add in the training, simulators, spares, special tools, fuel, modifying infrastructure, recruiting more pilots and aircrew….

Mark
Mark (@guest_821244)
1 month ago

Wow! Just Wow!
The moderation on this site is super efficient. Just received 2 emails notifying me that 2 of my posts had been approved. One post contained a smiley face emoji and the other a link to the Wall Street Journal about Chinese vs American shipbuilding.
The former was posted by me 18 days ago and the latter 29 days ago. If the mods were shipbuilders, I’d guess that they were American and not Chinese. I’d put a smiley face here but it would take 4 weeks to approve.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark
Jon
Jon (@guest_821323)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

😀

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_821369)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Glad you’re impressed. I recieved an email yesterday telling me a post I submitted a month ago had just been approved.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frank62
Mark
Mark (@guest_821384)
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Guess we both must be racists or some other kind of bigot, who require the extra vetting. Probably by the FBI. Haha!

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark
Uninformed Civvy Lurker
Uninformed Civvy Lurker (@guest_821401)
1 month ago

Now if only we had a stealthy autonomous aircraft, like say Taranis, that we could upscale. Imagine if we were trialling autonomous and remotely controlled large aircraft, like say, testing the technology on Banshee and Banshee swarms in the Outer Hebrides. Imagine if we had the world’s greatest engine manufacturer, like say, something like Rolls Royce in the U.K. Imagine we were developing and testing a guidance system that was impervious to jamming or spoofing, like the one we are currently testing the technology with, on the RJ100 at Boscombe. Imagine if we could create a large stealthy autonomous aircraft… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Uninformed Civvy Lurker
Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_821411)
1 month ago

B1-lancer getting replace ,has B21 coming on line 🤔 nice if the RAF could have a SQN.🇬🇧

John
John (@guest_821431)
1 month ago

On a strategic level these are “the biz”. Taking out a certain dam in China? Ideal kit. Reading the comments made me smile and remember that lovely story of a Vulcan “bombing” the continental USA in the sixties. Also Black Buck springs to mind. “Where there’s a will”.

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon (@guest_821587)
1 month ago

Joining in the retro-future of big bombers in this post the obvious way forward is a 4 engined Mosquito using electric engines – already available and in commercial service as I speak. Drone batteries orbiting in the stratosphere would provide recharging on the way home. The wooden construction with radio absorbing paint would give a tiny radar signature. Mind you, prodding a three-pin-plug into the socket in turbulence might prove tricky. If we used Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bombs we could release them just past Denmark and they would bounce right into Russia. On the other hand we might need to… Read more »

Cygnet261
Cygnet261 (@guest_821646)
1 month ago

As usual armchair, never served in the forces dreamers wishing for a star.

Norm Browne
Norm Browne (@guest_821699)
1 month ago

Not only stealthy but has a terrifying beauty.