The Air Force is conducting "ground taxi activities" with the B-21 Raider ahead of the bomber's first flight, the service said.
“Rigorous testing is a critical step in the B-21 flight test program,” according to a statement from the Air Force. “Extensive testing evaluates systems, components and functionalities. This testing allows us to mitigate risks, optimize design and enhance operational effectiveness.”
Air Force officials have said the bomber’s first flight is expected by the end of the year, stipulating that the test won’t be rushed to meet a calendar date.
Unveiled for the first time in December, the B-21 is being touted as the world’s first sixth-generation aircraft. It’s being designed to run long-range, nuclear-capable operations.
The B-21 will replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit in the nuclear bomber fleet as part of a two-platform approach with upgraded B-52 Stratofortresses rounding out the fleet.