On November 10, a long-awaited but unexpected event occurred in California. The Americans lifted into the air a prototype of the 6th generation strategic bomber, which was built by order of the US Department of Defense by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The B-21A Raider is intended to be a successor to some of the bombers currently in use, while at the same time allowing it to maintain a technological advantage over its main competitors: China and Russia.
The plane’s flight had been expected for several weeks due to increased aircraft activity at the plant’s airport in Palmdale.
In accordance with the procedures, before the flight, engineers and the experimental team had to check the correct operation of on-board systems, and taxi and take-off tests were carried out on the runway. Shortly after takeoff, the B-21A Raider was joined by a Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter, which accompanied the bomber during the flight – this is due to US procedures that require the presence of an additional aircraft during this flight. type of event. His task is to observe what happens to the machine during the flight and, possibly, provide assistance in an emergency situation.
In addition, the escort aircraft is often used as a flying platform for photographing action in the air – unfortunately, due to the secrecy surrounding the B-21A Raider program, photographic material provided by the manufacturer and the US Department of Defense is not relatively poor.
Interestingly and unexpectedly, the first flight ended not at the factory airport, but at Edwards Air Force Base in California. This is the main test center of the US Air Force, responsible for testing all new types of combat aircraft intended for the above-mentioned users and export customers.
The flight of the B-21A Raider prototype bomber was the culmination of previous efforts by Northrop Grumman Corporation, industrial partners (more than 400 companies located in 40 states) and the US Department of Defense. The contract for the construction of the new generation was signed between the Pentagon and the contractor in October 2015. In the long-range strike bomber competition, Northrop Grumman Corporation’s proposal won the competition submitted by a consortium consisting of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
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