The US Air Force has released a new rendering image of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider strategic stealth bomber being developed in California.
The graphic illustration, however, shows an aircraft with visual differences from other previously released artistic renderings. Instead of a two-part rectangular windshield, the B-21 appears with a triangular shape and diagonal side windows.
The USAF was keen to stress that the rendering “is an artist’s interpretation of the B-21 design” like the previous ones. In fact, the first rendering, which shows the bomber from above, suggests that the front windows could be shaped like the new image (see below).
The three renderings, on the other hand, reaffirm the flying wing shape as well as the upper air intakes right next to the cockpit.
“The B-21 program continues to execute the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and is focused on scaling the manufacturing infrastructure and capacity across the industrial supply base to prepare for low rate initial production. A critical design review conducted in 2018 concluded the aircraft has a mature and stable design,” the Air Force statement said.
First flight in 2022
Designed by the same manufacturer as the B-2 Spirit, the world’s first stealth bomber, the B-21 is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s.
Two test aircraft are being completed at the USAF facility in Palmdale, the so-called “Plant 42”. The B-21 Raider is expected to make its maiden flight in 2022 and then be taken to Edwards Air Force Base to begin the flight test phase.
The new strategic bomber will replace the B-1B and B-21, but will have the company of the B-52, which is about to undergo a modernization process that will keep it in service until 2050.