B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber
The B2 Stealth Bomber is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B2 Stealth Bomber brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.
Along with the B-52 and B-1B, the B2 Stealth Bomber provides the penetrating flexibility and effectiveness inherent in manned bombers. Its low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. Its capability to penetrate air defenses and threaten effective retaliation provide a strong, effective deterrent and combat force well into the 21st century.
The revolutionary blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B2 Stealth Bomber important advantages over existing bombers. Its low-observability provides it greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. Its unrefueled range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers).
The B2 Stealth Bomber's low observability is derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and radar signatures. These signatures make it difficult for the sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track and engage the B2 Stealth Bomber. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B2 Stealth Bomber's composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its "stealthiness."
The B2 Stealth Bomber has a crew of two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right, compared to the B-1B's crew of four and the B-52's crew of five.
The first B2 Stealth Bomber was publicly displayed on Nov. 22, 1988, when it was rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, Calif. Its first flight was July 17, 1989. The B2 Stealth Bomber Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft as they are produced.
Whiteman AFB, Mo., is the B2 Stealth Bomber's only operational base. The first aircraft, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered Dec. 17, 1993. Depot maintenance responsibility for the B2 Stealth Bomber is performed by Air Force contractor support and is managed at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla.
The success of the B2 Stealth Bomber was proved in Operation Allied Force, where it was responsible for destroying 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks, by flying nonstop to Kosovo from its home base in Missouri and back. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the B2 Stealth Bomber flew one of its longest missions to date from Whiteman to Afghanistan and back.
The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design and integration, is Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector. Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc., are key members of the aircraft contractor team. Another major contractor, responsible for aircrew training devices (weapon system trainer and mission trainer) is Hughes Training Inc. (HTI) - Link Division, formerly known as CAE - Link Flight Simulation Corp. Northrop Grumman and its major subcontractor HTI, are responsible for developing and integrating all aircrew and maintenance training programs.
Primary function: Multi-role heavy bomber.
Prime Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corp.
Contractor Team: Boeing Military Airplanes Co.,
General Electric Aircraft Engine Group
Hughes Training Inc., Link Division
Power Plant/Manufacturer: Four General Electric F-118-GE-100 engines
Thrust: 17,300 pounds each engine (7,847 kilograms)
Length: 69 feet (20.9 meters)
Height: 17 feet (5.1 meters)
Wingspan: 172 feet (52.12 meters)
Speed: High subsonic
Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,152 meters)
Takeoff Weight (Typical): 336,500 pounds (152,635 kilograms)
Range: Intercontinental, unrefueled
16 AGM-129 ACM
16 AGM-131 SRAM 2 CONVENTIONAL
8 GBU 27
8 AGM-154 JSOW
8 AGM-137 TSSAM
Payload: 40,000 pounds (18,000 kilograms)
Crew: Two pilots
Unit cost: Approximately $2.1 billion [average]
Date Deployed: December 1993
Inventory: Active force: 21 (planned operational aircraft); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0