Coming soon: The official rollout of the secretive B-21

The B-21 Raider, the Air Force’s next stealth bomber, will be shown to the public for the first time in Palmdale, California on Dec. 2. (Northrop Grumman)

WASHINGTON — Mark your calendar. The Air Force’s next stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, will be revealed to the public in California on Dec. 2.

Northrop Grumman, the company building the B-21, announced the date in a tweet Thursday.

The rollout will take place at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California. The company said in September that six test bombers were in various stages of final assembly there.

But the company and the Air Force have shared few details of the rollout. Northrop Grumman’s announcement included a short video that showed a shrouded B-21 being illuminated with floodlights, and the date.

The Air Force did not have an immediate comment on the announcement.

This will be the first public unveiling of a new Air Force bomber in 34 years, since the B-2 Spirit’s debut in November 1988.

The first B-21 finished its initialground tests in May, which included stress tests to verify the bomber’s structural integrity. Other tests and steps in the process that followed have included powering up the bomber, testing its subsystems and applying coatings and paint.

The first flight of the B-21 will come in 2023, a few months after the rollout. Northrop Grumman said in September the timing of that flight “will be based on ground test outcomes.”

That B-21 will fly from Plant 42 at Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base in California next year, where formal flight tests will take place.

Andrew Hunter, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, in September announced the approximate timing of the B-21 rollout at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air Space Cyber conference, saying he expected it in the first week of December.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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