USAF B-2 SPIRIT STEALTH BOMBER – DEFENDING THE UNITED STATES AND THE REST OF THE WEST

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the B-2. Below some basic information from the website of the company:

The U.S. Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber is a key component of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal, and one of the most survivable aircraft in the world. It can penetrate the most sophisticated enemy defenses andheavily defended targets. The B-2 has demonstrated its capabilities in several combat scenarios, including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and most recently, in Libya, during Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The B-2 is the only American aircraft that combines long range, large payload and stealth in a single platform, giving it the ability to project air power anywhere in the world. It can fly 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling. With its ability to carry more than 20 tons of conventional and nuclear ordnance and deliver it precisely under any weather conditions, the B-2 also has the ability to change the outcome of a conflict with a single mission.

Northrop Grumman is working with the Air Force to modernize the B-2 to ensure that it remains fully mission capable against evolving worldwide threats. A range of upgrade programs are improving the B-2’s lethality; its ability to collect, process and disseminate battlefield information with joint force commanders or other local first responders worldwide; and its ability to receive updated target information during a mission.

At present the B-2 fleet consists of 20 aircraft. Nineteen B-2s are currently based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., home of the 509th Bomb Wing, while one aircraft is assigned to flight testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. to validate software and weapon systems upgrades.

A book, ”B-2: The Spirit of Innovation ” (2013) by Rebecca Grant features interviews with former company, Air Force and Defense Department officials that worked on the B-2 program.

Grant writes about the technical challenges, breakthroughs, changing customer requirements and engineering of the once-secret bomber that was built to counter Soviet air defense systems.

The book also details the aircraft’s first test flight and its first operational use in 1999.

Dr. Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research, has a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics, University of London. Her first job was with RAND in Santa Monica, California. She then spent three years on the Air Staff at the Pentagon working directly for Secretary of the Air Force Donald B. Rice and then for Air Force Chief of Staff General Tony McPeak in his operations group. Her portfolio included strategic nuclear force reductions, the B-2 program, logistics and depot maintenance cost restructuring, and roles and missions.

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