Software deliveries have begun for the U.S. Air Force’s future B-21 Raider bomber, a service official said late April 18.

“We’ve delivered the first set of software for the platform, and we’re going through that,” said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy in the Air Force acquisition office. “And we’re getting set up for the next set of software to come in.” 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch (Air Force photo)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch (Air Force photo)

With the B-21, the Air Force hopes to avoid the kinds of software problems that have plagued some of its other major aviation programs, including the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II.

Bunch, who testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel, also indicated that the B-21 program is moving ahead in other areas, including expanding its work force and preparing for testing.

“We’ve manned up a good portion of what we need to do,” Bunch said in response to questioning from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “We’re making everything ready to begin our test program in the future.”

Bunch said he is “comfortable” with the overall progress of the development program, whose prime contractor is Northrop Grumman [NOC]. The B-21 completed its preliminary design review in early 2017 and “we’re on our way toward critical design review.”

The Air Force is requesting $2.3 billion for the stealth bomber in fiscal year 2019, up from $2 billion in FY 2018. The Air Force plans to buy at least 100 B-21s and begin fielding them in the mid-2020s to replace the B-1 and B-2.