Northrop Grumman has released new information on the progress of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. The first test article has been built with production processes and will be used in a robust flight test campaign. The decision to build a highly representative test vehicle will allow for a quicker transition to the final operational configuration. The design team also focused on sustainment during the development phase, improving long-term efficiency. The B-21 Raider is utilizing the latest in digital tools and capabilities, allowing for testing and modeling before physical movements or needs. The first flight is expected in 2023.
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Northrop Grumman has completed the first B-21 test article using production representative processes and materials, a crucial step in the overall program strategy. During the Air, Space and Cyber Conference, the Air Force provided an update on the next-gen bomber, revealing new photos of the advanced aircraft. In addition, Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere announced that engine runs are underway and the first flight is expected by the end of 2023. The decision to build a production representative test article rather than a prototype followed by series aircraft allows for a robust flight test campaign and smoother transition to the final operational configuration. The B-21 Raider will replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers, providing long-range, penetrating strike capabilities for national defense. Sustainment was a key consideration during the design phase, giving the B-21 a head start on support and maintenance operations. The use of digital tools and advanced technologies, such as digital twins and simulation environments, has allowed for accurate modeling and testing before physical construction. The B-21 is designed with an open architecture, allowing for easy upgrades and integration of third-party technology.
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