Friday, July 15, 2016

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy penetration strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is a flying wing design with a crew of two.

The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons.
The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet (15,000 m), with a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles (6,900 mi; 11,000 km) on internal fuel and over 10,000 nautical miles with one midair refueling.

It entered service in 1997 as the second aircraft designed to have advanced stealth technology after the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft. Though designed originally as primarily a nuclear bomber, the B-2 was first used in combat, dropping conventional, non-nuclear ordnance in the Kosovo War in 1999. It later served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cost of each aircraft averaged US$737 million in 1997 dollars. The total program cost including development, engineering and testing, averaged $2.1 billion per aircraft in 1997.

132 aircraft were planned in the mid-1980s, but that was later reduced to 75. In September 1997, each hour of B-2 flight necessitated 119 hours of maintenance. Comparable maintenance needs for the B-52 and the B-1B are 53 and 60 hours respectively.