William LaPlante, under secretary for acquisition and sustainment at the Department of Defense, said the Northrop Grumman-built (NYSE: NOC) B-21 Raider stealth bomber has been given the green light to kick off low-rate initial production following its initial flight test in 2023, Breaking Defense reported Monday.
“Production of the B-21 ‘Raider’ stealth bomber is moving forward. This past fall, based on the results of ground and flight tests and the team’s mature plans for manufacturing, I gave the go-ahead to begin producing B-21s at a low rate,” LaPlante, a two-time Wash100 awardee, said in a statement.
Northrop and the U.S. Air Force conducted the first flight test of B-21 in November.
“As shared by the U.S. Air Force, the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider has entered low-rate initial production. Our team received the contract award after B-21 entered flight testing within the program baseline schedule. Our production representative test aircraft indicated readiness for production, achieving all flight performance and data requirements,” Northrop said in a statement.
The Air Force plans to order at least 100 B-21 bombers to support long-range missions. The service awarded the Long Range Strike Bomber development contract to Northrop in October 2015.