Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit

B-2 Spirit This is the B-2 Stealth Bomber, the Flying Wing. B2 is the stealthiest aircraft in the world today, and is the first one from the second generation of stealth technology aircraft. The first generation is represented by F117 types of aircraft, in which the fuselage was highly angled to deflect radiation. The second generation is represented by B-2s and the newest UAVs. The idea here is to do exactly the opposite: to have very smooth fuselage forms, which would divert radiation away of the fuselage so it won't go back to the enemy radar, so the radar is unable to see it. What cannot be deflected, will be absorbed by the RAM(Radar Absorbing Material), the same as in the F-117. You can see that this aircraft has no tail or additional wings, except the fact that the aircraft itself is a giant wing. That's why it was nicknamed "The Flying Wing". Having no elevators and no other wings is the ultimate ideal for the Stealth aircraft producers.
USAF Photo by MSgt. Rose Reynolds

The Northrop Grumman B2 Spirit is the most expensive aircraft ever built. Its price varies from 750 million dollars to 2.2 billion dollars, and its operational cost is also huge.
But as the president of Northrop Grumman says, this flying baby does worth all the prices in the world.
B2 Spirit has a weight of 20t, a wing span of 53m and cruises at 15 000m. B2 is highly subsonic, and its range is 10 000 km with normal tanks and 18 000 km with drop tanks.
B2's first flight was in july 1989. B2 has only 2 pilots, but Northrop Aircraft claims that those 2 pilots can make the job that just a few years ago was done by no more than 75 pilots, because B2 can fly alone in the mission, and because it doesn't need any fighter escort, about 8 to 12 pilots drop down from there.
The B2 Spirit can also do the same job that was done before by a whole squad of bombers, because it can transport a hell lot of bombs and launch them with greater precision. Laser-guided bombs, GPS-guided bombs, TV-guided bombs, infrared-guided bombs, ever nuclear warheads can easily fit in the B2's huge fuselage. Or, should I say, huge wing ?...
B2 has digital fly-by-wire flight controls (of course), and its flown by no less than 23 computers. A computer takes care of the fuel status, another one of navigation, another one of the ammo targeting and launching, another one of the radar and IR detection, another one of altitude, speed and weather conditions, etc.
However, an Czech engineer claims that his anti-Stealth detection system, called TAMARA, can easily detect any Stealth aircraft, like the F22 Raptor, the RAH-66 Comanche, AH64 Apache, F117 Nighthawk and even the B2 Spirit. The engineer claims that the Stealth technology works perfectly only for the radar, but the infrared signal, the noise of the engines and other important characteristics can never be hidden completely. Back in the States, the president of Northrop Aircraft denies any possibility that he would be aware of any detection system or whatsoever that could detect even the sliest track of the B2.
The Czech engineer works for an company in the Czech Republic, and when his declaration arrived at the US government, the federal government asked Northrop some very serious questions, because the US government is not going to pay many billions of dollars for an aircraft that can be detected just like any other.
Well, in the year 2000, and aspecially afterwards, every military authority in the USA says that US Air Force will have about 19 B2s, about 95 B1Bs and some restructured B52 Stratofortresses.
We'll live and see

Here is the US Air Force Fact Sheet on this plane


The B-2 Spirit 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 B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.

B-2 Spirit
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Along with the B-52 and B-1B, the B-2 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 B-2 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 B-2'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 B-2. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B-2's composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its "stealthiness."

B-2 Spirit B-2 Spirit

The B-2 has a crew of two pilots, an aircraft commander 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 B-2 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 B-2 Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, Calif., is responsible for flight testing the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development aircraft as they are produced. Five of the six developmental aircraft delivered to Edwards are still involved in continuing flight testing. The first test aircraft is currently kept in flyable storage.

Whiteman AFB, Mo., is the B-2's only operational base. The first aircraft, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered Dec. 17, 1993. Primary maintenance responsibility for the B-2 is divided between Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla. for avionics software (contractor); Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah for landing gear and trainers (contractor); and the Northrop-Grumman facility at Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale for periodic depot maintenance.

The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design and integration, is Northrop Grumman's B-2 Division. Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Vought Aircraft Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group and General Electric Aircraft Engine Group 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 C.A.E. - Link Flight Simulation Corp. Northrop-Grumman and its major subcontractor HTI, excluding Link Division, is responsible for developing and integrating all aircrew and maintenance training programs.

B-2 Spirit
B-2 Spirit
B-2 Spirit

General Characteristics

Primary function: Multi-role heavy bomber.

Prime Contractor: Northrop B-2 Division.

Contractor Team: Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Vought Aircraft Co., and General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Hughes Training Inc. -- Link Division

Power Plant/Manufacturer: Four General Electric F-118-GE-100 engines

Thrust: 17,300 pounds each engine

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

Armament: Nuclear or conventional weapons

Payload: 40,000 pounds (18,144 kilograms)

Crew: Two pilots, with provisions for a third crew station

Unit cost: Approximately $1.3 billion

Date Deployed: December 1993

Air Force Inventory: Active force: 21 planned (operational aircraft); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0

Alleged Crashes and Shoot Downs (dubious data...)

B-2A Spirit strategic stealth bomber shot down

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One American B-2A Spirit strategic stealth bomber (possibly AV-8 88-0329 Spirit of Missouri) was shot down on 05-20-99 over Surcin at 01:00 local time. The aircraft crashed near the village of Dec (Detch), Pecinci county (in the field between Simanovci and Kupinovo).

map of b-2 shot down map of b-2 shot down

The flight of three B-2As (normally B-2A fly in pairs, one acting as a backup for another) entered Yugoslavian airspace from the northwest and was escorted by several fighter aircraft (B-2As are usually escorted over Yugoslavia by F-15C fighters and F-16CJ fighter/bombers in SEAD role; every mission of B-2As requires about 50 escort and support aircraft). The B-2As were detected by long-wave early-warning radars. The bombers reduced altitude and attacked its targets in Belgrade. One of the B-2As was hit by a SAM in the area of the cockpit and crashed shortly after. Crew was killed in the crash. The incident was reported by Ilustrovana Politika magazine on 06-01-99.

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