The B-21 Raider stealth bomber, considered the most advanced military aircraft known, took off for the first time from Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, on November 10.
Video and images taken by Matt Harman proved the milestone, later confirmed by Northrop Grumman, its manufacturer, and the US Air Force (USAF).
The flying-wing jet will replace the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers in the coming years.
According to Northrop Grumman, the B-21 does not have a prototype like other programs. The jet that flew on Friday is a representative production aircraft.
The images confirm the impression that the B-21 is a smaller aircraft than the B-2 and show the bomber for the first time from a lower angle – an F-16 fighter followed the flight.
Ver essa foto no Instagram
Reuters released photos of the B-21 on the ground and shortly after takeoff, where it is possible to notice the auxiliary air intakes open.
The flight took place at 6:51 am, according to the agency, which did not prevent dozens of onlookers from positioning themselves close to the runway to wreck the aircraft.
The morning light was also useful to notice the rather voluminous profile of the wings as well as the central part of the fuselage, where the weapons compartment is located. Furthermore, several areas with supposed sensors could be seen in detail.
The B-21 bore the insignia of Edwards Air Force Base and a representation of Cerberus, a multi-headed dog from Greek mythology.
Entry into service expected in mid-decade
The new bomber will assume the main role of the US Air Force’s nuclear vector and was designed using open architecture and digital tools, which make it “the first sixth-generation aircraft in the world to take to the skies”, as the company said. Northrop Grumman.
There are currently six aircraft in different stages of production at Palmdale and Northrop expects to be awarded the contract for a new batch of B-21s soon.
As for the test plane, the plan is for it to fly to Edwards Air Force Base within a few weeks, where the main development program will take place.
The USAF expects to put the B-21 Raider into service in the mid-2020s.
— Matt Hartman (@ShorealoneFilms) November 10, 2023