Eli5 – How do the USA test top secret aircrafts such as the B-21?

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I’m pretty sure the U.S. revealed the B -21 bomber because they have other top secret aircrafts that make the B-21 look like childs play. I don’t think we would reveal anything that would give competitive information to enemy countries. Based on those logic, how do we test out to secret aircrafts without getting caught on satellite cameras from other countries???

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There are huge facilities in the southern California desert specifically dedicated to this task. They’ve been in use for At least 70 years. Also, nighttime darkness is a thing. And NORAD knows where all surveillance satellites are.

That’s why they have test ranges like Area 51, to protect things. What was shown in the reveal probably did not actually contain any competitive information. And it’s going to be a nuclear-capable bomber, and one of the big reasons for a nuclear arsenal and platforms to begin with is deterrence. It helps to keep your enemies deterred when they actually have an idea of what you’re working with.

Satellites have known orbits, which can’t be changed much without exhausting their supply of fuel. So people can work out when each satellite will be above the horizon at their site, and accordingly schedule when their top-secret plane has to be under cover, in a hanger or whatever.

Apparently the makers of *Top Gun Maverick* created a bit of a stir when their model spaceplane was spotted by a Chinese satellite.

There’s Area 51 / Groom Lake where a lot of secret stuff is apparently tested.

F117s were [assigned to a remote base](https://jalopnik.com/keeping-stealth-stealthy-the-f-117s-secret-life-at-ton-1747371730) in Nevada and kept hidden in hangers, old trainer aircraft were parked outside to make it look active.

A phrase we have in the military is “honor the threat”. What that means is that if you credibly suspect that your adversary has a capability you must plan as if it is a certainty.

So, with strategic assets like the B-21, we actually do want to advertise their capabilities…up to a point. By doing so, we force our adversaries to honor the threat, which means they now have to commit time and resources to try to counter the B-21. They may also be forced to delay or abandon some plans because they don’t currently have a way to defend against this new capability.