Northrop Grumman is producing two test models of the U.S. Air Force's B-21 Raider bomber two years after completing the aircraft's critical design review, with the first test article starting to take shape.
The company said Monday it uses virtual testing environments, digital engineering approaches and advanced manufacturing technologies to produce the new bomber in Palmdale, California.
“Our early and continued investment in infrastructure, design maturation, risk reduction and our workforce has been a significant driver of progress on our first two aircraft on the production line in Palmdale,” said Steve Sullivan, vice president and general manager of the strike division at Northrop.
The company also used its new infrastructure to test the integration of the B-21 aircraft's software and hardware.
B-21’s CDR took place at the company's Florida-based Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence over a three-year period.
Sullivan said the bomber should be ready for low-rate initial production after key milestones next year.