US B 21 first flight credit Matt Hartman 640USAF's Raider maiden flight

On 10 November 2023, the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, the world’s second stealth bomber, made its maiden flight. As expected, the Raider, with serial number 0001 and ED code flew from Northrop's facility at the Air Force's Plant 42 in Palmdale (CA) towards Edwards AFB (CA).

Although later than predicted, Raider's first flight fulfills the forecast by manufacturer Northrop Grumman and the USAF that the new stealth bomber would fly before the end of 2023, and clears the way for the USAF to issue a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for the bomber.

The Raider, which will most probably receive the B-21A designation, is a strategic bomber under development for the USAF by Northrop Grumman. As part of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) programme, it will become a long-range, stealth intercontinental strategic bomber for the USAF, able to deliver conventional and thermonuclear weapons. The USAF has the intention to replace its total inventory of Rockwell B-1B Lancers and Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirits by 2040.

US B 21 detail credit SR Planespotter 320Last year, on 22 October 2022, Scramble Magazine wrote about the unveiling of the Raider and Edwards being the planned home of "0001". As a side note, Scramble also mentioned that the B-21 would probably beat the Chinese future Xian H-20 stealth bomber roll-out (and subsequent first flight). Both are now a fact.

Strikingly, no full serial has been released. Scramble assesses that it could be either 15-0001 or 16-0001. Any help with that would be most welcome.

Credit photo: Matt Hartman (@ShorealoneFilms on X) / detail: SR_Planespotter (TX) (@SR_Planespotter)

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