The US Air Force (USAF) has selected two airforce bases (AFBs) to support its next-generation B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber.

Tinker AFB in Oklahoma has been chosen to coordinate maintenance and sustainment of the bomber, while Edwards AFB in California will carry out testing and evaluation of the aircraft.

The selection of the bases supports the development and eventual deployment of the long-range and highly survivable aircraft.

Expected to be delivered to the USAF in the mid-2020s, the B-21 Raider is being developed with the capability to penetrate air defences and carry out a wide range of critical missions.

The bomber is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase.

The Air Logistics Complex of the USAF Sustainment Center at Tinker AFB will leverage its knowledge and expertise to support planning for the depot maintenance of the aircraft.

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“From flight testing the X-15 to the F-117, Edwards AFB in the Mohave Desert has been at the forefront of keeping our airforce on the cutting edge.”

Tinker AFB will receive support from Robins AFB in Georgia and Hill AFB in Utah to ensure the bomber is maintained, upgraded and refurbished when necessary.

The USAF has selected the Edwards AFB to serve as the location for the combined test force of the B-21 Raider.

As home to the airforce test centre, the Californian base carries out work for the USAF in order to ensure that aircraft fleets and other equipment meet rigorous standards.

The testing programme at Edwards AFB has been designed to provide timely, objective and precise aircraft information.

USAF chief of staff general David L Goldfein said: “From flight testing the X-15 to the F-117, Edwards AFB in the Mohave Desert has been at the forefront of keeping our airforce on the cutting edge.

“Now, testing the B-21 Raider will begin another historic chapter in the base’s history.”

Northrop Grumman’s facility in Melbourne, Florida, serves as the design and development headquarters for the aircraft.