The US Air Force’s new nuclear stealth bomber B-21 Raider made its first test flight. The test flight was successfully carried out last day.
The US Air Force’s flying wing-shaped B-21 “Raider” bomber made its maiden flight on Friday. The long-range nuclear-capable stealth bomber, built by Northrop Grumman, took off from Air Force Plant 42 in California.
B-21 Raider takes off for the first time
Northrop Grumman has conducted the first test flight of the B-21 Raider, bringing the futuristic fighter jet one step closer to entering the US inventory. The Air Force plans to build 100 of the aircraft, which has a flying wing shape very similar to its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit, but with advanced materials, propulsion and stealth technologies to make it more survivable in a future conflict. The aircraft is planned to be produced in piloted and unpiloted variants.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said such tests are a critical step in the fight to provide “survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, its allies and partners.” But while the B-21 Raider is the first new US bomber in more than 30 years, almost every aspect of the project has been kept secret. Both Northrop Grumman and the Air Force are trying to protect the details of the program to prevent China from gaining access to the weapon’s technology and building a similar version to other US advanced weapons systems, such as the F-35 joint strike fighter.
750 million dollars each!
The planes are estimated to cost about $550 million each in 2010 dollars, or about $750 million in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars. But the program’s secrecy makes it difficult to determine the true cost. The Air Force will buy at least 100 of these planes to replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers.
The B-21 Raider weighs approximately 13,607 kilograms and has a wingspan of 52 meters. The aircraft can also reach speeds of 1,000 km/h. The Air Force estimates that the program will cost at least $203 billion over 30 years to develop, acquire and maintain the B-21 fleet. The first planes are expected to enter inventory by 2027.