The secretive B-21 stealth bomber could be tested sooner than expected

An artist rendering shows the first image of a new Northrop Grumman Corp long-range bomber

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An artist rendering shows the first image of a new Northrop Grumman Corp long-range bomber
source
Thomson Reuters

  • The B-21 Raider is expected to head to Edwards Air force Base in southern California for its testing phase.
  • Previous speculation was that the bomber would be tested at Area 51 because of the level of secrecy associated with the aircraft.
  • The announcement could mean that the B-21 could be deployed sooner than previously thought.

The Air Force has announced that its new stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, will be headed to Edwards Air Force Base in southern California for testing.

Brigadier General Carl Schaefer, the commander of the 412th Test Wing put the endless speculation as to where the B-21 would be heading to rest during comments at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and Business Outlook Conference, according to The Drive.

“For the first time ever, I would like to publicly announce that the B-21 will be tested at Edwards Air Force Base … Edwards has been the home of bomber test and now we also can publicly release that the B-21 is coming to Edwards and we will be testing it here in the near future,” Schaefer said.

The general’s remarks appeared to confirm that the B-21 will be headed for operational testing sooner than some had previously believed.There are no known images of the B-21, although concept art does exist.

The level of secrecy surrounding the B-21 is so intense that Congress doesn’t even know much about it. Previous reports speculated that the testing would be at the Air Force’s infamous Area 51 facility.

The Drive reporter Tyler Rogoway said that he noticed a number of changes to the base during his last visit to Edwards. “It was clear that the South Base installation was undergoing a major transition,” he said.

“The USAF’s B-52 and B-1 bomber test units had relocated to the expansive primary apron and South Base had been vacated, aside from the B-2 test unit, so that it could be prepared for a shadowy new program.”

Edwards Air Force Base has unique facilities that would help the testing and development of stealth aircraft, such as the Raider, and is the headquarters of the Air Force’s Test Center and Test Pilot School. Edwards is also the home of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.

The B-21 will phase out the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the Air Force announced in February.