Five B-21 test aircraft in assembly at Northrop facility

By Courtney Albon / September 20, 2021 at 5:38 PM

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall revealed today there are five B-21 test aircraft being manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, CA, production facility.

The Air Force had previously indicated there were two test aircraft being built as part of the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase, but Kendall’s disclosure confirms there are at least three more.

“We have been living off of bomber fleet investments made many decades ago, but that is rapidly changing,” he said during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference here. “As I speak here, there are now five test aircraft being manufactured on the F-21 production line at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale.”

Kendall said the aircraft, which is slated to fly for the first time next year, is progressing well through development.

“You’ll never hear me make optimistic predictions about programs,” he said. “All programs are at risk; the same is true for the B-21. But at this point, at least, the program is making good progress to build real capability. This investment in meaningful military capabilities that project power and hold targets at risk anywhere in the world addresses my No. 1 priority.”

The Air Force plans to buy at least 100 B-21s.