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Quit NGAD to focus on Assaulters, Northrop Grumman executives: B-21 will make its first flight within this year

In order to strengthen the doubts of the U.S. military and the outside world about the development delay and cost increase of the B-21 Assault stealth bomber, the CEO and chief financial officer of the developer Northrop Grumman stated in yesterday’s quarterly report that the company will be committed to Let the B-21 make its first flight this year, and has withdrawn from the NGAD sixth-generation aircraft competition.

The U.S. military started the “Next Generation Bomber” (Next Generation Bomber, NGB) development program in 2004, but was forced to cancel it in 2009 due to financial constraints.

At that time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved another new bomber development plan after the cancellation of the NGB, emphasizing that the new bomber must be at a financially affordable price, so the new “Long Range Strike Bomber” (Long Range Strike Bomber) , LRS-B).

At that time, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman jointly bid for the LRS-B project, but due to the experience of the B-2 development project, in 2015 the U.S. Air Force announced that Northrop Grumman won and named the new bomber B-21 Raider.

In 2021, the U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman were originally scheduled to conduct their first test flight at the end of 2022. However, due to delays in the development progress, only the official media presentation of the B-21 was held in December 2022, and the first test flight was postponed to this year.

Recently, it has been reported that the B-21 development project may again face delays and cost increases. In order to stabilize investor confidence, Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden and Chief Financial Officer Dave Keffer said during the company’s quarterly report yesterday. They successively stated that the development team will strive to complete the first flight before the end of this year.

Worden pointed out that the development team has recently successfully completed the B-21’s ground engine start-up test, so it has taken another step towards the official first flight, so it is quite confident about the first flight within this year.

In addition, Worden also publicly stated that Northrop Grumman has officially withdrawn from the U.S. Air Force’s sixth-generation fighter NGAD bidding. The process is similar.

However, Worden said that in addition to focusing on the B-21 development project, Northrop Grumman will continue to participate in other U.S. military aircraft development projects, so the outside world believes that the company may still be working on the Navy’s F/A-XX sixth-generation aircraft project However, the U.S. Air Force and Navy currently have a lot of cooperation in the development of the sixth-generation aircraft, so it is not sure how Northrop Grumman will participate in the Navy’s F/A-XX program after withdrawing from NGAD.


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