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Northrop Grumman B-21 begins taxi testing

The Northrop Grumman B-21. (Northrop Grumman)

The Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider has begun taxi testing in Palmdale, California, according to the US Air Force (USAF).

“I can confirm the B-21 is conducting ground taxi activities,” a USAF spokesperson told Janes . “Rigorous testing is a critical step in the B-21 flight-test programme. Extensive testing evaluates systems, components, and functionalities. This testing allows us to mitigate risks, optimise design, and enhance operational effectiveness.”

The service declined to provide additional information. Northrop Grumman referred questions to the USAF.

Testing of the B-21 is largely taking place in secret, and such details as the aircraft's planform, range, and payload capacity are classified. Northrop Grumman announced that it had turned on the aircraft's engines in September, and in July that the aircraft had switched on its electrical power system.

The B-21 is scheduled to conduct its first flight in late 2023, with initial operational capability scheduled for 2025, although delays are common for new aircraft programmes.

The USAF intends to purchase at least 100 B-21s to replace the Boeing B-1 and Northrop Grumman B-2 in both conventional and nuclear attack missions.

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