B-21 Raider’s First Flight Caught On Camera

B-21 first flight
A screenshot from Matt Hartman showing the B-21 Raider during its first flight.

The first flight of the B-21 was spotted as the aircraft took off from Plant 42, Palmdale, California.

On Nov. 10, 2023, freelance news photojournalist Matt Harman shared on X the first footage of the B-21 Raider during its maiden flight. According to our sources, the first flight of the 6th generation bomber was initially slated to take place yesterday, Thursday Nov. 9, but it was cancelled, due to a technical issue.

The video shared online by Hartman shows the B-21, under the callsign RAIDER 33, taking off from the Air Force Plant 42 Palmdale, California, with a U.S. Air Force F-16 escorting it in close formation acting as a chase aircraft.

As the takeoff was filmed from distance and somehow underneath the aircraft, it is still hard do determine some of the peculiarities of the new bomber, including the engine layout of the Raider which to this day still remains as an uncertainty.

Still, the clip confirms the planform of the Raider, showing that it misses the saw-tooth trailing edge that can be found on the B-2 Spirit (actually, as explained in a previous post, the B-2 started with a planform similar to the one of the B-21, however that had to be changed to increase the stability during strike missions at low altitude, a requirement which has not been requested for the new sixth-gen bomber).

The images were taken from outside the airport fence with the aircraft flying in clear in daylight, suggesting they weren’t too concerned the aircraft could be photographed by aviation spotters. It can therefore be expected that the sightings of the B-21 will become more regular as time progresses and we go deeper into the type’s testing phase.

The first image of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber during ground taxi tests outside of its Palmdale hangar appeared online on Reddit on Oct. 25, 2023.

By pure accident, the first flight of the B-21 Raider happened on the very same day, in 1988, the Pentagon acknowledged the existence of the F-117 stealth jet (by accident, as the maiden flight was supposed to happen yesterday).


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About Wonwoo Choi
Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.