The US Air Force selected two maintenance bases for the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider: Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma and Edwards AFB, California.
The bases will coordinate maintenance and sustainment of the long-range stealth bomber, leading testing and evaluation of the aircraft, which is expected to be delivered in the mid-2020s, says the USAF.
Robins AFB in Georgia, and Hill AFB in Utah, will also support Tinker AFB with maintenance, overhaul and upgrade work. The bases’ personnel will be trained and equipped to rebuild parts, assemblies or subassemblies of the aircraft. Personnel will also test and reclaim equipment as necessary for depot activations, says the USAF.
Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider artist rendering
US Air Force
Edwards AFB will test and evaluate the B-21. The base is home to the Air Force Test Center, which leads aircraft testing and evaluation for the USAF.
"From flight testing the X-15 to the F-117, Edwards AFB in the Mohave Desert has been at the forefront of keeping our Air Force on the cutting edge," says Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen David L. Goldfein. "Now, testing the B-21 Raider will begin another historic chapter in the base's history."
The USAF plans to station its future Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider fleet at Dyess AFB, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The service plans to buy 100 B-21s, enough to retire by 2040 its fleet of 20 Northrop B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and 62 Boeing B-1B Lancer bombers. The stealth bombers are estimated to cost $564 million in fiscal year 2016 dollars.
Northrop Grumman finished preliminary design review of the B-21 Raider in April. The aircraft, which is being designed at Northrop Grumman's Melbourne, Florida, facility, is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the acquisition cycle.