Northrop Grumman completed the first loads calibration test for the B-21 in early May, with the trial designed to test the plane’s airframe features under stress to determine flight readiness.
The recent test is the first of three testing procedures that the B-21 will have to complete before it receives a greenlight to undergo its first flight.
Future tests are scheduled to include testing the plane’s subsystems, as well as applying coatings, before turning to low-speed and high-speed taxiing.
Throughout the process, the company confirmed that they have tailored their processes to minimise production risk across engineering, manufacturing and development.
The company suggested that the recent successes of the program have proven the impact of their digital twinning process.
The first flight is scheduled for 2023, remaining on-schedule to the government Acquisition Program Baseline with six aircraft that are in various stages of production.
“The B-21 test aircraft is the most production-representative aircraft, both structurally and in its mission systems, at this point in a program that I’ve observed in my career,” Randy Walden, director of the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and program executive officer of the B-21 Raider program, said.