The B-21 Raider, developed as a next-generation bomber to replace the 1988-designed B-2, has successfully completed initial power-on testing, marking another significant step towards its inaugural flight scheduled for late 2023, reports Sarbaz.kz citing the Air&Space Forces Magazine.
The B-21 Raider is a dual-role stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear ordnance. It represents the first new bomber in the US Air Force fleet since the introduction of the B-2 Spirit in 1988. The B-21 has been in development since 2015, with an estimated procurement cost of $515 million per unit.
Power-on testing is one of the initial phases in prototype testing, during which the aircraft's batteries and engines are assessed for fundamental functionality.
Following this, taxi tests will be conducted, where the aircraft will maneuver along runways and taxiways to examine various systems during ground movement. Flight test results will influence technical modifications to different equipment.
At this final phase, prior to prototype selection, the testing team and pilots amass extensive performance data on various systems that inform the next developmental stages. In some cases, further technical enhancements and reengineering may be required.
For the B-21, flight tests will scrutinize its advanced electronics, sensors, stealth characteristics, potentially intricate software coding, and its alignment with user-defined specifications, particularly those outlined by the United States Air Force (USAF).
The B-2 bomber was produced at the same facility in 1988 and took to the skies just nine months later. Its inaugural flight originated in Palmdale, California, and concluded at the nearby Edwards Air Force Base, which is also slated to serve as the designated destination for the B-21's maiden flight.