U.S. AIR FORCE’S B-21 ‘RAIDER’ MAKES ITS MAIDEN FLIGHT
Almost every aspect of the B-21 project and its test flight is classified. The B-21 warplane is an upgrade over the old B-2 Spirit
The B-21 Raider, the new nuclear stealth bomber of the US Air Force, took its first test flight on Friday, November 10.
The stealth bomber flew in Palmdale, California, where it has been under testing and development by the aerospace and defence company Northrop Grumman.
The warplane is an upgrade over the old B-2 Spirit, built with advanced materials, propulsion, and stealth technology to make it more survivable in a future conflict. But on a closer look, one cannot miss the resemblance in the wing shape of the B-2 Spirit and the B-21.
CBS reported that the US Air Force plans to manufacture 100 units of the B-21 Raider aircraft, and is said to include both manned and unmanned variants. It is worth noting that the B-21 is the first new bomber aircraft manufactured for the US Air Force in over 30 years.
The US Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement regarding the first test flight, that the flight testing stage is crucial in providing “survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners.”
When it was first unveiled in December 2022, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed that the B-21 nuclear stealth bomber has a range that cannot be matched by any other bomber aircraft.
“It won’t need to be based in-theatre, it won’t need logistical support to hold any target at risk… Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft. Even the most sophisticated air-defence systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky,” Austin said, boasting about the stealth aspect of this new-gen bomber warplane.
As far as the nomenclature is concerned, CBS reported that the US Air Force chose the name “B-21 Raider” because it is the first new bomber of the 21st century, while “Raider” is a nod to the Doolittle Raiders, who flew a surprise attack during World War II.
Apparently, the latest B-21 Raider warplane is part of the efforts being made by the Pentagon to modernize its “nuclear triad,” which includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads, per CBS. The outlet further noted that the Pentagon is making desperate efforts to level the playing field, as China develops rapidly in the field of military modernization.
According to CBS, almost every aspect of the B-21 project and its test flight is classified, with the US Air Force as well as aerospace and defence company Northrop Grumman trying to protect China from gaining access to the weapon’s technology and building a similar version, something the country has done before.
Back in 2015, The Diplomat reported that U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden provided an array of documents to the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel that publicly confirmed, for the first time, the hand of Chinese hackers in extrapolating top secret data on the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter jet.
The fifth generation F-35 Lightning II was the most advanced fighter jet in the world at the time, and The Diplomat cited arguments from experts who claim that the Chinese J-31, as well as the Chengdu J-20 fighter jet, were in parts influenced by the F-35 warplane.