B-2 Spirit

The BlackbirdMilitary AircraftMuseumsImage GalleryGroom LakeLinks

The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The aircraft is a dramatic leap forward in technology and the bomber represents a milestone in the United States bomber modernization program.

The first B-2 was publicly displayed on 22 November 1988 when it was rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, CA. Its first flight was on 17 July 1989. The Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB is responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft as they are built.

Just like the B-52 and B-1B, the B-2 has the penetrating flexibility and effectiveness essential to manned bombers. Its stealth characteristics give the B-2 the 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 aircraft's low-observability gives it more freedom at high altitudes, increasing its range and a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. The aircraft's unrefueled range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles. 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 this technology remains classified, but the B-2's composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to it being a stealthy aircraft.

The B-2 has a crew of two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right. Whiteman AFB in Missouri is the B-2's only operational base. The first aircraft was delivered 17 December 1993.

B-2 Specifications
Primary FunctionMulti-role heavy bomber
Prime ContractorNorthrop Grumman Corp.
Contractor TeamBoeing Military Airplanes Co., General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Hughes Training Inc., Link Division
Power PlantFour General Electric F-118-GE-100 engines
Thrust17,300 pounds each engine
Length69 feet (20.9 meters)
Height17 feet (5.1 meters)
Wingspan172 feet (52.12 meters)
SpeedHigh subsonic
Ceiling50,000 feet (15,152 meters)
Takeoff Weight (Typical)336,500 pounds (152,635 kilograms)
RangeIntercontinental, unrefueled
Payload40,000 pounds (18,144 kilograms)
CrewTwo pilots
Date DeployedDecember 1993
Unit CostApproximately $1.3 billion
InventoryActive force: 21 (planned operational aircraft); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0


All Information gathered from Air Force Link.