B-2 Spirit stealth multi-role bomber

B-2 Cutaway

B-2 cutawayThe 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.

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.
  Related Aircraft:
Chinese J15, Chinese J20,
F-35 JSF, F/A-18E/F, F-22

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 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 Air Force Base, Calif., is responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft as they are produced.
Whiteman AFB, Mo., is the B-2's only operational base. The first aircraft, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered Dec. 17, 1993. Depot maintenance responsibility for the B-2 is performed by Air Force contractor support and is managed at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla.

The success of the B-2 was proved in Operation Allied Force, where it was responsible for destroying 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks, by flying nonstop to Kosovo from its home base in Missouri and back. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the B-2 flew one of its longest missions to date from Whiteman to Afghanistan and back.

The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design and integration, is Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector. Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc., 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 CAE - Link Flight Simulation Corp. Northrop Grumman and its major subcontractor HTI, are responsible for developing and integrating all aircrew and maintenance training programs.

Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems sector has been awarded an $85.9 million contract by the U.S. Air Force for the next phase of the B-2 radar modernization program, a multiyear effort to design and integrate a new radar antenna on the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems sector has been awarded an $85.9 million contract by the U.S. Air Force for the next phase of the B-2 radar modernization program, a multiyear effort to design and integrate a new radar antenna on the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

Northrop Grumman's work on the radar modernization program began in October 2002 with a $34.2 million contract for the first phase. The program is estimated to be worth more than $900 million to the company through 2010. The company's B-2 work is based in Palmdale, Calif.

Raytheon Company's Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, Calif., which provided the original B-2 radar, is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman on the radar modernization program.

Northrop Grumman's B-2 program is managed by Integrated Systems' Air Combat Systems business area.

The AN/APQ-181 radar system enables the unique combination of stealth, range, payload, and precision weapons delivery capabilities of the U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The radar currently employs a passive, two-dimensionally scanned antenna.

In 2002, the Air Force initiated the B-2 Radar Modernization Program (RMP) that will modernize the 1980-vintage design to yield a far more robust, capable system to support the aircraft well into the 21st century. Raytheon was selected to upgrade the radar with a frequency-compliant active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) as the first step in the RMP. The upgraded system's hardware design provides two redundant radar sets. When the RMP is complete, each radar set will consist of five line replaceable units or LRUs: the AESA and its associated power supply, signal processor, data processor, and receiver/exciter. In the event of a malfunction, the redundant components will continue to provide a fully functioning radar system, assuring B-2 mission effectiveness.

In 1991, the B-2 Industrial Team (including Hughes, now Raytheon) was awarded the Collier Trophy, widely considered the most prestigious U.S. aviation award. The award was in recognition of the "design, development, production, and flight testing of the B-2 aircraft, which has contributed significantly to America's enduring leadership in aerospace and the country's future national security."

September 17, 2003, Boeing and the U.S. Air Force successfully completed their first 80 guided weapon flight test demonstration of the MK-82 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). The drop took place from a B-2A bomber on September 10 at the Utah Test & Training Range, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The B-2A aircraft, based at Edwards AFB, Calif., flew to the test site and released the 80 weapons in a single 22-second pass. The weapons were released from four Boeing-designed and built “smart” bomb racks, flew their planned flight paths and attacked all 80 targets.

“Placing maximum steel on the target is what we get paid to do as Air Force bomber pilots and that happened today in a big way,” said Major William Power, 419th Flight Test Squadron B-2A project pilot. “Dropping 80 JDAM MK-82s in less than 30 seconds, with each attacking their own individual targets, is truly revolutionary.”

JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons. Boeing produces kits for 2,000 and 1,000-pound warheads and recently completed development for the 500-pound JDAM. The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a production contract to produce the first 5,800 MK-82 JDAMs which will be available in 2004.

“This historic drop clearly demonstrates the incredible capability of the MK-82 JDAM,” said Mike Marks, vice president and general manager of Air Force fighter, bomber and weapons programs, for Boeing. “This smaller warhead allows the warfighter to increase the number of weapons and subsequent targets while reducing collateral damage.”

The B-2 flight test program began in February 2003 as part of a separate contract to integrate the MK-82 JDAM and concluded with the 80-weapon demonstration.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, or IDS, is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $25 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.

Northrop Grumman has developed a new radar-absorbent coating to preserve the B-2's stealth characteristics while drastically reducing maintenance time. The new material, known as Alternate High-Frequency Material (AHFM), is sprayed on by four independently controlled robots.

Northrop Grumman has begun flight testing a new active-array antenna on the B-2 stealth bomber as the US Air Force rushes to change the radar’s Ku-band frequency to avoid interference with commercial signals from 2007.

Concurrency between testing of the Raytheon active electronically scanned array (AESA) and modification of operational B-2s to meet the deadline means Northrop will have to clear the radar modes in increments. Mode Set 1 is the “absolute minimum to go to combat”, while the remaining modes will follow in Set 2, says Dave Mazur, vice-president long-range strike.

The initial block of modes has been further divided. Set 1a, which is almost complete, provides demonstration modes only for training while the same “bare-bones” modes are fully qualified as the go-to-combat Set 1b. While the radar is still being tested, “development unit” arrays are being built to allow the modification of operational B-2s to begin. The concurrency makes it “a risky programme”, says Mazur.

Northrop and Raytheon are working on the AESA upgrade under a $382 million system development and demonstration contract awarded in 2004. Two engineering development model arrays have been installed in air vehicle 3, the B-2 used for flight testing at Edwards AFB in California.

The AESA replaces the existing passive electronically scanned antenna, its array of Ku-band transmit/receive modules allowing the original radar’s travelling wave-tube transmitter to be removed, reducing weight and improving reliability. Structural and software changes are minimal and existing modes are retained, although Northrop is pushing for funds to upgrade the processor take advantage of the AESA’s capability.

Shifting the radar frequency required changes to “a couple of items” on the aircraft that were sensitive to interference, Mazur says.

B-2 bomber loadout capability chart. http://ericpalmer.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/b2weap2007.jpg?w=630&h=473 With the hostilities in Korea and carriers days out, this gives you an idea of what the B-2 is capable of carrying. An update to the above chart would be a weapons rack that can carry 80 GBU-38 JDAMs. And to back that up for the Pacific Rim; an FB-22 is a much better investment than a dysfunctional F-35. So is the idea of the USAF joining UCAS-N with the Navy.

Apr 4, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Under contract to the U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman Corporation's NOC +0.68% B-2 Spirit stealth bomber has completed its first 18.5-hour sortie over the North Pole to validate new flight management software. The computer upgrade system, which is the cornerstone for all future B-2 upgrades, is now ready to enter low-rate initial production.

The Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Increment 1 system verification review demonstrated the computer upgrade program successfully satisfied the government's requirements. The sortie also included air-refueling to and from the North Pole from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Spoof: US leases B-2 bomber to UK

PM Cameron was concerned enough about another Falklands War to ask President Obama to lease the UK a US B2 (Spirit) Stealth Bomber, which could easily deter any hostile intentions of Argentina's government. Such new technology mitigates sending another 127 ship UK Naval Task Force (naval, air and ground forces), as in 1982, sailing for 45 days to the south Atlantic. The high speed US B2 Bomber transit time is measured in hours.

The B2 Bomber can penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop either GPS-guided bombs or nuclear bombs, and can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons.

President Obama agreed to the lease, provided that the US received naval and air basing rights on the Isle of Wight, which is not historically unprecedented. President Franklin Roosevelt and PM Winston Churchill struck a "Destroyers for Bases Agreement" in 1940, where 50 US Navy destroyers were transferred to the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in exchange for basing rights in Bermuda and Newfoundland.

President Obama also agreed to PM Cameron's request that a third B2 Bomber crew member be added to brew tea and that the name "Lady Margaret" be painted on the nose of the aircraft!

House Panel Backs $554 Billion Defense Bill Defying Obama

The panel backed the full budget request of $292 million for research and development of a new long-range strike bomber, attaching a provision pressing the Air Force to ensure that the plane can carry nuclear weapons as soon as it is operational.

The Air Force plans to spend $6.3 billion through 2017 on developing the bomber, the first since Northrop Grumman was awarded the contract for the B-2 in 1981.

The defense panel overrode Army plans to suspend production of upgraded Abrams tanks built by Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics. The committee added $181 million to the Army's budget, for a total of $255.4 million, to keep building the tanks and converting them into the latest M1A2 model at the plant in Lima, Ohio.

General Characteristics
Primary function: Multi-role heavy bomber
Prime Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corp.
Contractor Team: Boeing Military Airplanes Co., General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Hughes Training Inc., Link Division
Power Plant: 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 (15,240 meters)
Takeoff Weight (Typical): 336,500 pounds (152,634 kilograms
Range: Intercontinental, unrefueled
Armament: Conventional or nuclear weapons
Payload: 40,000 pounds (18,144 kilograms)
Crew: Two pilots
Unit cost: Approximately $1.157 billion (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Date Deployed: December 1993
Inventory: Active force: 21 (1 test); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0

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