B-21 Bomber Rollout Set For Early December

B-21 Raider
B-21 Raider
Credit: U.S. Air Force concept

The U.S. Air Force will roll out the Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber in the first week of December, Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said on Sept. 20.  

Hunter confirmed the timing for the first time during a news conference at the Air, Space and Cyber 2022 conference outside Washington.  

The rollout event at Northrop’s plant in Site 4 of the Air Force’s Plant 42 complex in Palmdale, California, will provide the first public viewing of the physical aircraft more than 7 years after Northrop won the contract.  

“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” said Doug Young, sector vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. 

The first six aircraft acquired under the engineering and manufacturing development awarded in 2015 are in various stages of assembly.

Illustrations and renderings released by the Air Force show that the B-21 is a flying wing aircraft similar to the Northrop B-2, but with a V-shaped trailing edge instead of the Spirit’s sawtooth design.  

But the renderings stop short of providing an exact sense of the size of the B-21 relative to the B-2, although the Raider is generally expected to be a smaller aircraft.  

The Air Force plans to achieve first flight of the B-21 in 2023. The fleet should also become operational in the mid-2020s from the first main operating base at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.  

 
 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.