MELBOURNE, Fla. (AFNS) --
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson recently visited two separate sites associated with the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. He met with the B-21 Raider team at Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Design and Development Headquarters in Melbourne Dec. 3, and he went to the Kennedy Space Center to review the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Processing Facility Dec. 4.
During his visit to the B-21 Design and Development Headquarters, Wilson received a tour of the on-site facilities and an update on the progress of both software development and the build of the initial test aircraft currently underway in Palmdale, California. Both software and hardware associated with the initial test aircraft are essential ingredients for the program’s next major milestone — first flight.
While touring the facilities, Wilson talked about how far the design, development and build of the new bomber has progressed and how the Air Force and Northrop Grumman are building the infrastructure to support a critical program.
“It is absolutely critical that the Air Force develop and deliver this B-21 operational capability as soon as possible, with at least 100 fielded aircraft, to ensure we maintain the ability to operate in contested environments around the world and to counter emerging threats,” he said.
The next day, Wilson toured the X-37B facility. The X-37B most recently landed at the Kennedy Space Center Oct. 27 after 780 days on-orbit. The platform performed risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.
“The X-37 team continues to advance reusable space technology and is revolutionizing how we do business in space,” Wilson said after his visit to the Kennedy Space Center.
The unmanned X-37B is designed for vertical launch to low Earth orbit altitudes where it can perform long duration space technology experimentation and testing. Upon command from the ground, the X-37B autonomously re-enters the atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway.
“The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office team is proud of our industry partnerships and the success we have had to date on both the B-21 Raider and X-37B,” said William Bailey, AFRCO deputy director, who accompanied Wilson during his visits.