Yet another unknown aspect of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber appears to have been discovered by chance days ago. The photographer who caught the first Northrop Grumman prototype on the runway at Plant 42 in Palmdale (California) shared high-resolution images that reveal two “spikes” on the wings.
According to The Aviationist, the two ‘lances’ could be the aircraft’s auxiliary air intakes, a feature also present on the B-2 Spirit.
The shape of the mechanism, however, is surprising as they look more like fins from a distance. One hypothesis is that they have the function of diverting the air flow into the engines’ air intakes instead of serving as extra openings.
Due to its flying wing shape and stealth characteristics, the B-21 has engine air intakes that are quite hidden to reduce the radar signature.
The configuration, however, impairs the direction of the airflow in certain phases of takeoff and flight, such as more pronounced angles of attack.
The solution considered by Northrop Grumman on the pioneering B-2 was to install two retractable auxiliary air intakes over the main engine intakes.
This time, the company seems to have rethought the configuration.. The existence of two ‘spikes’ also led the outlet to suggest that the B-21 Raider is a twin-engine aircraft rather than four turbofans like the B-2..
Due to its smaller size and characteristics aimed at offering greater autonomy, the hypothesis that the B-21 has only two engines is quite valid.
The author of the photos also shared interesting information, the aircraft’s call sign, called in radio transmissions as “LEAHI65”.
Northrop Grumman is in the final preparations to carry out the maiden flight of the new nuclear bomber, which could take place by the end of this year.