The US Air Force has begun flight tests of the onboard systems of the B-21 Raider strategic stealth bomber. According to previously presented data, the machine can perform its first flight next year.
The development of the new B-21 stealth strategic bomber is one of the key programs of the US Air Force. As it became known now, the Air Force has begun flight tests of its on-board systems using an unnamed machine of a different type. The Pentagon believes that this will accelerate the development of the bomber, as well as reduce technical risks during the Raider’s first flight.
Despite the difficulties associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the B-21 program is making good headway, according to the data presented. The aircraft is ready to make its first flight in December 2021. Recall that last year, US Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson, announced a possible date for the car’s first flight, saying that it has a “countdown” function on a wristwatch.
In parallel with the tests of the on-board systems of the aircraft, they are assembling its first flight model. And although many key parameters of the “strategist” are kept secret, some important information is already known. Back in 2016, former US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James presented the concept of the aircraft. As predicted by the experts, the B-21 will be a subsonic machine made according to the “flying wing” aerodynamic configuration.
The latter makes it similar to the strategic bomber B-2: the only existing stealth of this type in the world.
Its high cost (the price of the B-2, according to some sources, exceeds two billion dollars), as well as a number of other circumstances, led to the fact that only 21 copies were built for all the time. The new aircraft, according to available data, should be cheaper than its progenitor. With a high degree of probability, it will also have a lower combat load.
The armament composition of the B-21 is not known for certain. Most likely, in its arsenal, in addition to existing guided bombs and cruise missiles, there will be promising hypersonic weapons.
One such system, the AGM-183A ARRW hypersonic air-launched missile, recently underwent new tests aboard the B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber.
As part of the tests, two prototypes of the product were involved, one of which received a telemetry unit, and the second received a number of parts of the control system. Missile drops were not carried out as part of the tests. The first flight of the AGM-183A may take place this year.