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US B-2 Bσmber Carry Largest Bσmb Suddenly entering warzone

The first B-21 bσmber will not make its first flight until 2023, at least six months later than planned, the service said in May.

Rapid Capabilities Office director Randall G. Walden, who predicted last year that the B-21 would fly in “mid-2022,” said in March the first flyable B-21 was largely assembled and starting calibration testing. Air Force and industry sources still expect the first B-21 to be rolled out this calendar year.

Lt. Gen. David S. Nahom, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said in May that as many as 145 B-21s could be needed, a 45 percent jump from the 100 specified earlier. But a full acquisition plan and strategy still awaits completion of engineering and manufacturing development, and the requirement could shift with emerging strategy and technology.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. told the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 3 that an “ongoing analysis” of B-21 requirements and indicated how many “other capabilities that work with the B-21”—such as additional escorts—could alter the equation. Brown said the Air Force is “working through crewed and uncrewed collaborative platforms that can work very closely with the B-21.”

Calling the program “on track,” Brown also said the Air Force is doing all it can to ensure the plane is “easier to maintain … to increase aircraft availability.”