- America is unveiling their new stealth bomber the B-21 Raider on the 2nd December.
- It is the first 6th generation aircraft.
- The B-21 is the first new bomber in over three decades for the US Air Force.
- Flight tests are to be done with a production-specification aircraft.
This will be the very first sixth-generation aircraft and in an effort to get the Raider into the hands of the US Air Force as soon as possible, Northrop will be using a production representative vehicle. The Raider will sit alongside the B-1B Lancer, B-52 and the B-2 Spirit in the US’s arsenal.
Tom Jones the president of Northrop Grumman, spoke of the huge advancements in stealth capabilities as well as the computing power to share data across various other platforms. The idea is to have aircraft interconnected with other domains of warfare.
The aircraft set to be shown off to the public will be known as T1 and will be used for the first flight testing at the Air Force Plant Palmdale, California.
Jones has announced that further testing will occur over the next few months to ensure that T1 will be ready for her first flight. This is expected to be in 2023 and will be based on how the ground testing goes initially.
The decision to use a production-based aircraft for testing is hoping to pave the way for future development which will lead to shorter timescales before official introduction into service. Previously flight testing would have been done by non-representative vehicles which would require huge amounts of work to get ready for production.
On top of this, virtual testing will be used to cut costs and time down as much as possible. Flight simulators and other digital methods have been used to a great extent to ensure this new aircraft is as stealthy as possible.
Currently, there are six Raiders in various forms of production. The next Raider that will be ready, G1, is going to be exclusively for ground testing.
The Raider name is to honour the Doolittle Raid that happened during the Second World War. A group of 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific led by Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle. The aim was to drop bombs in Tokyo to show the Japanese nothing was out of reach. These 80 volunteers were instrumental in shifting momentum in the Pacific Theatre. The courageous spirit of the Doolittle Raiders is the inspiration behind the name of the B-21 Raider.