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Northrop Grumman ramps up B-21 test aircraft production

Northrop Grumman ramps up B-21 test aircraft production

Production of the long-range stealth bomber for test and evaluation has more than doubled, the US Air Force has confirmed.

Production of the long-range stealth bomber for test and evaluation has more than doubled, the US Air Force has confirmed.

Speaking at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference, newly appointed Secretary of the US Air Force, Frank Kendall, revealed there are now five test aircraft being manufactured on the B-21 production line at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.

This is an increase from just two test aircraft in production at the turn of 2021.


“This investment in meaningful military capabilities that project power and hold targets at risk anywhere in the world addresses my [number one] priority,” Secretary Kendall said.

Doug Young, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s strike division, attributed the progress to strong collaboration with the Air Force, early application of digital tools and a committed workforce.

“We have a nationwide industry team who has shown tremendous dedication and grit over the past 18 months,” Young said.

“Combined with our extensive collaboration and transparency with our Air Force customer, and the success we’ve had in bringing digital tools into our design and production processes, the B-21 program is leading the way in many respects.”

The application of new digital tools and processes during the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase involved the use of augmented and virtual reality, and ground and airborne test beds.

“The integration of our digital design capabilities with our advanced manufacturing technologies means we’re working smarter and faster to bring next-generation technologies to life,” Chris Daughters, aeronautics sector vice president of engineering, added.

“Our ability to continually reduce risk throughout EMD by utilising these transformative digital capabilities is going to pay dividends throughout the full life cycle of the aircraft.”

The B-21 Raider, a long-range stealth bomber, is expected to be capable of penetrating tough enemy defences to deliver precision strikes across the globe

“With the capability to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world, this weapon system is critical to our national security,” Young added.

“Northrop Grumman is committed to delivering the B-21 Raider to the warfighter on time to ensure America can project its power globally for decades to come.”

[Related: Leonardo, Northrop Grumman announce UAS collaboration

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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