“With the first [B-21] test aircraft in formal ground test, software and hardware are coming together,” said Tom Jones, president of Northrop’s aeronautics systems business. “The phase we’re in now will further prove out our design on our way to first flight.”
Northrop will test the aircraft’s structural integrity and subsystems and apply paint and coatings during the ground testing at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The company will then subject B-21 to engine runs and low-speed and high-speed taxiing operations in preparation for its maiden flight.
B-21 will then travel from Plant 42 to Edwards Air Force Base in California, where the formal flight testing phase will be carried out.
Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters in a roundtable Friday that Northrop has six Raiders in various production stages.
In July 2021, the Air Force released an updated artist’s rendition of the B-21 aircraft, which is designed to conduct long-range conventional and nuclear missions.