Here’s what everyone forgot about the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber
With the help of the Global Position System-Aided Munitions, three B-2 bombers successfully hit their targets in the Nevada desert in October 1996. The accuracy of this aircraft at long range and its ability to evade detection should be a triumph. for the many supporters of the bomber. But he was never fully appreciated. The B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber was born out of the necessity of the Cold War. In an effort to penetrate the defense of the Soviet Union, the US Air Force commissioned Northrop to build a bomber for the military with impeccable stealth technology and air-to-land detachment capability.
The aircraft that was to succeed the B-1A bomber was more expensive than previously thought, which led to the suspension of development of the B-2. With the end of the Cold War, the aircraft was no longer needed but could not be scrapped, which was a real dilemma. Here are some interesting facts about the B-2.
For the B-2, stealth was paramount, and the aircraft achieved its famous stealth in several ways. First, the bomber has been configured to reduce visual, acoustic, radar and infrared signatures to go unnoticed amid high-level anti-aircraft systems. Well, the bomber has had huge success with its camouflage, as there is no recorded example of a missile targeting the B-2.
Additionally, the aircraft wears anti-reflective paint and is stored in a unique air-conditioned hangar to preserve its coat.
When the General Accounting Office announced the price for the maintenance of the B-2 aircraft, it sparked a public outcry, and that’s understandable. Maintaining each aircraft costs approximately $ 3.4 million per month. To put this in context, the annual maintenance cost of the B-1B was $ 9.6 million, while another aircraft, the B-52H, cost only $ 6.8 million to maintain each year. .
American taxpayers were annoyed by the high prices, leading many to label the project as unnecessary.
It was marked as a black project
Project B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber was shrouded in secrecy. Throughout the development of the aircraft, the program was referred to as a black project, meaning very few people were aware of its existence. In addition, all program personnel involved in the project needed a secret special access clearance as well as a thorough background check by the US Air Force.
To keep the project out of public view, the builders acquired a Ford plant in Pico Rivera. In addition, the parts needed for the project were purchased by other companies.
Some employees tried to sell information
For most of the time before its public display in November 1988, the B-2 was hidden from the public. However, Thomas Cavanaugh, an aerospace engineer, attempted to leak information to the Soviets in 1984.
He was arrested and sentenced to life in prison but was granted parole in 2001. Another engineer, Noshir Gowadia, was arrested in 2005 for selling information to China on the plane and was sentenced to 32 years in prison for his problems.
Each model costs an average of $ 2.13 billion
The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber is one of the most expensive military aircraft purchased by the US Air Force. The bomber, which was built by Northrop, had an average cost of $ 737 million per aircraft, and in 1997 it was a lot of money (it’s still a lot of money).
Spare parts, modernization, equipment and software support reached $ 929 million for each model. If you factor in the engineering, development, and testing, the price of each aircraft is around $ 2.13 billion.
It was redesigned in 2008
A few changes have been made to the Stealth Bomber since its inception, the most significant of these upgrades being the onboard computer architecture, which was redesigned in July 2008. Along with the new software, the aircraft also received upgrades. of its weapon control system to engage with moving targets.
Other changes include modernization of radar and antenna systems. In addition, the Airforce has also planned changes in nuclear combat, threat warning system and weapons carrying capacity.
He was almost interrupted
Due to the huge amount of funds invested in the B-2 bomber, a panel in Congress advised the US Airforce to stop production of the aircraft in 1998. The idea was to build another version of the plane or a whole new project that was more economical.
However, the Airforce ignored this advice, estimating that the fleet could be maintained until 2058. In another turn of events, the Airforce announced in 2019 that the bomber would be retired by 2032 .
He has deadly firepower
The B-2 initially built for the Cold War, has two bombs and up to 40,000 lbs of artillery. The nuclear artillery consisted of B83 and B61 nuclear bombs. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war that followed, the B-2 was equipped with a GPS assisted targeting system, which was eventually replaced by Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
Currently, the bomber can carry up to 80 JDAM. Other weapons include GATOR Mines, Massive Ordnance Penetrators, and Mark 84 Bombs.
Initially, the B-2 was designed to carry nuclear weapons, but its use has varied over time. The aircraft’s first combat took place during the Kosovo War in 1999, where it was designated to bomb Serbian targets along with other Air Force bombers. Soon after, in 2000, the bomber was deployed to Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the B-2 flew one of its longest missions from its base in Missouri to Afghanistan and back to base with the assistance of aerial refueling. The aircraft has also been used in Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and South Korea.
Only 21 B-2 built
The United States obtains a first order of 132 B-2 during the 1980s. However, the order was reduced to 75 aircraft. When the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s, the B-2s were no longer needed, as the main mission for which it was built was no longer in service.
George W. Bush, then President of the United States, was under intense pressure to review production of the aircraft. In 1992, the president announced that only 20 B-2s would be built. However, the next administration has given the green light for the manufacture of the 21st aircraft.
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