No, not those Raiders. Nice long read on the origins and technical aspects of the B-21 Raider program, which just enjoyed its first test flight:
Things should have moved on in the four decades since the B-2 was conceived, and indeed they have. The B-21 is familiar, but it clearly isn’t the same. As someone with a professional interest in aerodynamics, but from outside of the defence aerospace industry, I’ve been amusing myself by attempting to unpick some of what I’ve seen in the few available images. I claim no more than that.
In one of the most significant airpower developments in recent years, the U.S. Air Force’s new B-21 Raider — the world’s second stealth bomber, at least that we know about — has taken to the air. A video taken from outside the Air Force’s storied Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, early this morning, showed the B-21, with its landing gear down, accompanied by an F-16 chase plane. Other high resolution photos have followed.
It’s always difficult to say while we’re in the midst of a procurement program, but all indications suggest that Northrop and the Air Force have done a good job with the B-21; taking advantage of legacy lessons from the B-2, integrating a set of existing technologies into a new synthesis, and largely keeping costs manageable. Of course there’s still time for the program to take a catastrophic turn…