WASHINGTON (AP) — The B-21 Raider took its first test flight on Friday, moving the futuristic warplane closer to becoming the nation’s next nuclear weapons stealth bomber.
The Raider flew in Palmdale, California, where it has been under testing and development by Northrop Grumman.
The Air Force is planning to build 100 of the warplanes, which have a flying wing shape much like its predecessor the B-2 Spirit but will incorporate advanced materials, propulsion and stealth technology to make it more survivable in a future conflict. The plane is planned to be produced in variants with and without pilots.
“The B-21 Raider is in flight testing,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.
Such testing is a critical step in the campaign to provide “survivable, long-range, penetrating strike capabilities to deter aggression and strategic attacks against the United States, allies, and partners,” Stefanek said.