Air Force Chief Anticipates ‘Something Special’ for B-21 Public Debut
The Raider is still on schedule to make its first test flight with the next year, Air Force chief says.
The Air Force has five B-21 Raider stealth bombers in development, but they won’t all roll out at once, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown told Defense One on Tuesday, during the annual State of Defense conference.
But there will be a special public splash when the service is ready to introduce its newest warplane, he said.
Last week, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall revealed that the service has not two, but five of the prototype bombers in production. The first Raider is still on schedule to undergo its first test flight within the next year, Brown said.
He did not reveal how far along the other four aircraft are, or the rate at which they’ll all come on line.
“As you might imagine, they’re big airplanes,” Brown said. “It’ll be sequenced as the five come out.”
The Air Force unveiled the Raider’s predecessor, the B-2 Spirit, to the public at an elaborate ceremony in Palmdale, California, on November 22, 1988—six months before it flew its first test flight.
With the B-21 Raider, the Air Force might change things up a bit, Brown said.
“There will be a ceremony at some point—whether it’s for the very first one for the first flight, or a little later …. I’m sure we’ll do something special as we bring out the B-21.”
During the Defense One interview, Brown was also asked about a mysterious photo obtained by The Drive that was purportedly shot at Lockheed Martin’s Helendale facility in California. The photo shows what looks like an upside-down fighter, or prototype stealth bomber, or a flying saucer—depending on who you ask—with more curves than the B-2.
Brown, responding to the question about whether it is an image of the Raider, and if he’s concerned that a photo may have leaked from one of the Air Force’s most secret production facilities, said he had not seen the photograph and couldn’t comment on it.