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B-21 Raider stealth bomber’s first flight delayed



The first flight of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber will take place few months later than planned, a spokesperson for the Air Force confirmed on Wednesday.

“It’s slipped from the original schedule — that we were using as a schedule to manage by — by a few months,” Frank Kendall said at the McAleese & Associates conference in Washington, before noting he is recused from making decisions on the program due to his previous consulting work with B-21 manufacturer Northrop Grumman. “It’s still within the baseline [schedule] that we originally had for the program.”

In a statement to Defense News, Northrop Grumman said that the Air Force still expects the B-21 to make its first flight in 2023, “informed by events and data.”

“The program remains on track to the government baseline for cost, schedule and performance,” Northrop Grumman said. “The program continues to focus on system maturity, production readiness and sustainment preparedness to best position the B-21 for first flight and an effective flight test campaign, leading to initial operating capability.”

The first B-21 was unveiled to the public on December 2nd.  The Air Force and Northrop Grumman never publicly provided a date for this bomber’s first flight, only that it would take place in 2023 and would be “data and event-driven.”


In a press conference with the media following the McAleese conference, Kendall would not go into specifics about what caused the delay. He said the delay was with the internal schedule set by the Air Force and didn’t indicate any serious problems with the bomber.

“You manage a schedule, which you tend to make a little bit aggressive to try to keep pressure on people to move fast,” Kendall told reporters. “There’s a baseline schedule, which is on the books … but there’s been no breach of that. But with the internal schedule, there’s been a slip of a few months.”

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