WATCH: B-21 Raider stealth bomber flies for first time

Miguel Ortiz
Nov 12, 2023 10:13 AM PST
2 minute read



Just under a year after it was shown to the world, the B-21 took to the skies for the first time.

On December 2, 2022, the Air Force unveiled its new stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider. Named for the famed Doolittle Raiders who struck back at Japan after Pearl Harbor, it is the world's first six-generation aircraft to be produced and the DoD's first new bomber in 25 years. Just under a year after it was shown to the world, the B-21 took to the skies for the first time.

The B-21 takes off for the first time (

On November 10, 2023, plane spotters witnessed the Raider take off from Northrop Grumman's facility in Palmdale, California. Both the Air Force and Northrop Grumman confirmed the first flight in statements to Defense One. "The B-21 Raider is in flight testing," Air Force Spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in the service's statement. "Flight testing is a critical step in the test campaign managed by the Air Force Test Center and 412th Test Wing’s B-21 Combined Test Force to provide survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies and partners."

The aircraft performed ground testing and taxiing before it made its first flight (Northrop Grumman)

"As confirmed by the U.S. Air Force, the B-21 Raider is in flight test. The robust flight test campaign is being executed by a Combined Test Force comprised of Northrop Grumman and Air Force personnel that will validate our digital models and moves us another step closer to reaching operational capability," the Northrup Grumman statement said. Each B-21 costs roughly $700 million and the company previously stated that it anticipates receiving a low-rate initial production contract following the bomber's first flight.

Stefanek noted that the first operational B-21s are on track for delivery in the mid-2020s. The first bombers will go to Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, which will host the B-21 training unit and serve as the aircraft's first main operating base. "Whiteman AFB, Missouri, and Dyess AFB, Texas (pending the Environmental Impact Statement) will receive aircraft as they become available. Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, will coordinate maintenance and sustainment of the B-21 and Edwards AFB, California, will lead testing and evaluation of the aircraft," she said. Six test B-21s are being produced and the Air Force plans to purchase at least 100 airframes to replace the B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber and B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.


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