B-21 Raider’s Unique Tail Design and Auxiliary Air Intake System Revealed in High-Resolution Imagery

B-21 Raider's Unique Tail Design and Auxiliary Air Intake System Revealed in High-Resolution Imagery
A new image of the B-21 at Palmade posted on Reddit by user u/Folding_WhiteTable


In a recent development, a new photograph of the highly classified B-21 Raider stealth bomber has emerged, shedding light on previously undisclosed features of the aircraft. This image, posted on Reddit by a user named “u/Mug_Of_Fire,” captures the B-21 during ground taxi tests at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Palmdale, California. The photograph provides a rare glimpse of the bomber’s rear end, revealing significant differences from its predecessor, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit.

  1. Distinct Rear-End Geometry:

The image showcases a distinct rear-end configuration of the B-21 Raider, notably differing from the B-2. The exhaust area and rear deck exhibit rounded and hooded/scallop-shaped features, indicating a departure from the boxy slot exhausts of the B-2. The photograph also reveals a lengthy flat deck behind the exhausts, terminating in a slightly upturned tail point, a design element aimed at minimizing the bomber’s heat signature.

  1. Notable Design Features:

The B-21’s landing gear differs from that of the B-2, and it lacks the “sawtooth” rear area shaping characteristic of its predecessor. Control surfaces along the trailing edge are deflected or relaxed, with the exception of the tail point, which appears non-articulated, suggesting a potential departure from the B-2’s “beavertail” feature. This modification may enhance structural integrity and stealth capabilities.

  1. Planform and Wing Configuration:

The B-21’s planform aligns with the original design concept, characterized by a lack of the “sawtooth” trailing edge seen in the B-2. The wingtips exhibit a slight anhedral angle, although further analysis is required to determine if this is due to differences in wing camber. Both the B-2 and B-21 feature rigid wings to maintain stealth capabilities, ensuring no wing droop when fuel tanks are full.

  1. Speculation on Unexplained Features:

A distinctive feature observed in the photograph is a different-colored patch on the aircraft’s upper port wing root. Aircraft experts have been unable to provide a definitive explanation for this anomaly, warranting further investigation as the B-21’s development progresses.

  1. Insights from u/Mug_Of_Fire:

The user u/Mug_Of_Fire, who captured the photograph, shared additional details about the image and the circumstances surrounding its release. The photograph was taken legally, and the user utilized specialized equipment, including a Canon 80D camera with a Sigma 150-600mm C lens. The user also noted the presence of auxiliary intake doors, referred to as “white spikes,” which are activated when the main intakes do not receive sufficient air while the aircraft is on the ground.


The emergence of this photograph offers a unique glimpse into the design and features of the highly classified B-21 Raider stealth bomber. The detailed analysis provided by both the image and u/Mug_Of_Fire’s insights provides valuable information for aviation enthusiasts and experts alike. As the B-21 Raider approaches its first flight, further revelations about this cutting-edge aircraft are anticipated.

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