YouTube - B-2 Bomber
1998 US$ Cost:
Flight Cost (est.):
US$130,430 per hour
4 x 17,300 lbs. ea.
+ - 2.0 G's
The total cost to produce a single B-2 bomber, built by Northrop, now Northrop Grumman, is more than any other aircraft ever produced. When total development costs are added in to the price of the long range, strategic, heavy bomber, the sum is $2.2 billion 1998 US dollars per aircraft.
On November 23, 1988, when the B-2 bomber was unveiled to the public for the first time, it was called "out of this world", and "an aircraft of the future". Back in 1947 those were the same terms used to describe Northrop's first "flying wing" bomber.
The B-2 bomber stealthy aircraft, nicknamed "Spirit", has all-altitude low observable technology for the penetration of sophisticated air defenses. Its concept originated during the Cold War, when the U.S. Air Force wanted an aircraft that could get through enemy radar defenses without being detected. It would deliver its ordnance, consisting of up to sixteen nuclear bombs, on important enemy targets. The aircraft first took to the sky on July 17, 1989. The aircraft's crew of two consists of a pilot and a mission commander.
The stealthiness of the B-2 bomber is the results of a combination of reduced acoustic, electromagnetic, infrared, and radar emissions. This has made it difficult for defensive systems it has flown against to detect, track, or engage the aircraft. Although much of the aircraft's stealthy feature details are classified, we know that the composite graphite materials, special radar absorbent paint coating, and shape of the aircraft, all contribute to it.
In operations to date, the B-2 bomber has not needed support aircraft, such as electronic warfare, or fighter escorts, to accomplish its missions. During missions, its large payload allows the B-2 bomber to do the work of several smaller attack aircraft.
In certain situations requiring stealthiness, B-2 bomber aircraft can use their technologies combined with high aerodynamic efficiency and a large payload to advantage. They can fly at high altitudes, with less chance of being detected by radar than conventional heavy bombing aircraft, thus increasing their range and providing a larger area for the aircraft's sensors to cover.
The B-2 stealth bomber flew its first combat mission on March 24, 1999 as part of Operation Allied Force. Two of the aircraft attacked Serbian targets, dropping 2,000 lb. JDAM bombs, as part of a 31 hour mission, non-stop, taking off from Whitman AFB, Missouri. During the operation, a total of 45 sorties were flown by six B-2 bombers. They dropped 636 JDAM bombs on the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the first eight weeks of operations, B-2 aircraft were credited with destroying 33 percent of all Serbian targets.
In Afghanista, during Operation Enduring Freedom, B-2 bomber aircraft flew six sorties during the first three days of the operation. Each sortie took 70 hours, including the flights to Afghanistan, a turn-around at Diego Garcia for a new crew, and the flight back to Whitman AFB.
The B-2 bomber is constantly being upgraded and improved. In 2009 the bombers received the latest radar upgrades.
When originally introduced, to justify its expense, the U.S.A.F. claimed that two B-2 bomber aircraft would replace up to 75 non-stealthy bombers.
In August of 2009 the U.S.A.F. signed a contract with Northrop Grumman for US$3.44 billion through 2014. It provides for revisions and care to the fleet of B-2 bomber aircraft in an attempt to remedy their meager 50% mission availability rate. Typically, out of the 20 aircraft remaining in service, less than 10 are available to fly on missions at any one time. In March of 2012 it was made public that an additional US$2.0 billion has been budgeted for aircraft modernization.
B-2 bomber aircraft have most recently flown missions over Libya.
A total of 21 B-2 bomber aircraft were produced. One was lost during take off on 2/23/08. Its crew ejected to safety.
RCGroups has an impressive B-2 Bomber by Boulybouly. It has a 96" wingspan, is 37" wide, with power from four 70 mm fans. Weight is around 10 lbs.
GWS has a B-2 Bomber with a 35" wingspan and 17" length. Included are motors and twin EDF units. It uses V-tail mixing for control and should fly better than airplanes using motor differential only. It weighs around 17 oz.