The maiden flight of the US Air Force’s new stealth bomber has been delayed again. According to service secretary Frank Kendall, the B-21 Raider should take off for the first time “a few months” later than scheduled, but still in 2023.
Kendall revealed the delay at a conference in Washington, but assured that the program is on schedule.
Developed by Northrop Grumman, the B-21 was unveiled in December and is expected to enter service in the mid-decade as a replacement for the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit.
The flying wing-shaped aircraft will be the USAF’s strategic spearhead, introducing new concepts of stealth and the ability to penetrate deep into contested territories, as the US refers to conflict environments.
Northrop Grumman currently has six B-21 Raiders in different stages of production at Plant 42 in Palmadale, California.
These are pre-production bombers as the Pentagon has yet to close the first series order for jets, which is expected for this year.
Although it has not provided official data, it is estimated that the Air Force will order at least 100 B-21s, which are cheaper than the B-2, the world’s first stealth bomber and which became the most expensive aircraft in history.