The B-21 Raider, the US Air Force's future stealth strategic bomber, has made its first flight.

The B-21 Raider flies! Photos published a few hours ago on Twitter have stirred up the defense and aeronautics community of the social network. These show, in fact, the first flight of the US Air Force's future strategic stealth bomber.

It therefore only took Northrop Grumman 7 years to fly the US Air Force's new strategic stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, after being declared the winner of the competition pitting it against other US aircraft manufacturers in October. 2015.

The first flight of the B-21 Raider on November 10, 2023

Indeed, a video, followed by several photos, were published on Twitter a few hours ago by Matt Hartman, a freelance photojournalist who managed to immortalize the moment when the American bomber passed overhead on November 10, gear extended and accompanied by an F-16.

This first flight, since confirmed by a press release from the US Air Force, came after several key milestones were reached by the program, such as the powering of the prototype in July, the ignition of the engines in September, and the first driving tests a few days ago.

This is, as one can imagine, an important step in the development of this strategic program for American deterrence, while the prototype, which will be followed by five others, now joins Edwards base in California, where it will carry out an intense test campaign by the USAF.

Matt Hartman's video showing the first flight of the B21 Raider.

Launched in 2014, the program which gave birth to the B-21 Raider, aims to initially replace the B-1 supersonic bomber which entered service in 1986, then the stealthy B-2 Spirit which entered service from 1997. The B-52 1955 of the US Air Force, although they entered service in XNUMX, will continue to carry out the nuclear mission for at least twenty years, according to the American general staff.

Northrop Grumman's B-21 program

Information surrounding the B-21 Raider, its characteristics and performance, is obviously confidential. The aircraft, which uses the flying wing configuration of the B-2, is designed to have great stealth, in order to penetrate the most contested airspaces, to carry out strategic strikes.

For this, the bomber will be equipped with the new AGM-181 Long Range Stand Off airborne cruise missile, a stealth cruise missile armed with a W80 Mod 4 nuclear warhead, from 5 to 150 kt, and with a range of more than 2 km. As with the B-500, the development of the LRSO is shrouded in great secrecy, even if we know that the missile, ordered in more than 21 copies by the US Air Force, has already reached the flight test phase.

B-21 Raider LRSO ammunition
The LRSO stealth munition developed by RTX will allow the Raider to strike targets more than 2500 km away

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