The global spread of sophisticated air defense systems in the 1980s threatened the US Air Force’s ability to destroy an enemies most valued targets. To overcome this threat, the USAF incorporated the revolutionary low-observable, or “stealth” technology into a long-range bomber capable of delivering large payloads of conventional or nuclear weapons. The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit merged the high aerodynamic efficiency of the “flying wing” design with composite materials, special coatings, and classified stealth technologies. As a result, the B-2 became virtually invisible to even the most sophisticated air defense radar systems.

The public first saw the highly classified B-2 on November 22, 1988, when it rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The B-2 first flew on July 17, 1989, at Edwards AFB, California, and Northrop Grumman delivered the first operational B-2 on December 17, 1993.

The B-2 soon demonstrated its combat capabilities in Operation Allied Force over Serbia in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan in 2001, and Operation Iraqi Freedom over Iraq in 2003. With a crew of only two, the pilot in the left seat and the mission commander in the right, a typical combat mission consisted of a non-stop flight from Whiteman AFB in Missouri to the target and back. During these missions, normally lasting more than 30 hours and requiring numerous aerial refuelings, each B-2 delivered up to 40,000 lbs of precision weapons.

B-2 Specifications

Country of Origin USA.
Similar Aircraft None.
Crew Two. Provisions for three.
Role Low-observable strategic bomber.
Armament Cruise and attack missiles. Bombs both tactical and nuclear. Sea mines.
Engines Four General Electric F118-GE-100 turbofans of 17,300 lbs thrust each
Wingspan 172 ft
Length 69 ft
Height 17 ft
Speed High subsonic
Takeoff Weight 336,500 lbs

B-2 WEFT Description

Wings Straight, swept-back leading edges, “double-W” trailing edges and square tips.
Engine(s) Four turbofans mounted in pairs within wing structure. Exhausts overwing.
Fuselage Blended flying wing with sharp pointed nose. Flush cockpit, bulging spine.
Tail No tail flats or fins.

Countries which Fly the B-2


B-2 Manufacturer Web Site

Northrop Grumman

Books on the B-2

The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber
The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber

B-2 Spirit: The Most Capable War Machine on the Planet
B-2 Spirit: The Most Capable War Machine on the Planet

From its flying-wing design, to its radar-deflecting stealth capabilities, to its nuclear bomb-delivering capacity, the B-52 is one awe-inspiring war machine. In B-2 Spirit, popular aviation author Steve Pace delivers a razor’s-edge portrait of this sinister-looking plane’s daring design, development, and deployment. You’ll read the exciting story of how Northrop Grumman developed this great leap forward in military aviation technology, a startling advance even over its own thrillingly foresighted B-49. you’ll be thre as the B-2, code-named “Project Senior Ice”…Asserts itself as the most dominant bomber in military aviation history; emerges triumphant from a phalanx of flying wing designs; Undergoes intensive flight testing that brought this revolutionary warcraft into operation in just eight years; Receives design modifications for an 80-bomb or 40-bomb capacity, and conversion to a 16-bomb nuclear platform in less than an hour; Takes to the skies, ready for wartime operation in campaigns such as Kosovo. With more photos than have ever been available in the public domain, including an eight-page color-photo insert, B-2 spirit brings you closer to the B-2 civilians have previously been allowed to venture. Packed with details on this exciting plane’s history and more information on its structures and systems than has ever been published in a single unclassified source, Steve Pace’s B-2 Spirit is the next best thing to flying the most advanced bomber in the world.

The B-2 Spirit
The B-2 Spirit

Discusses the history of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and its use in the military campaigns in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

B-2 Spirit: Combat Legends
B-2 Spirit: Combat Legends

The Northrop B-2 Spirit was developed in great secrecy as a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear ammunitions. The revolutionary B-2 Spirit is the first “Invisible” flying wing bomber. Originally designed only for the ultimate scenario, has been deployed with devastating effect in Kosovo and most recently in Afghanistan.

Inside the Stealth Bomber
Inside the Stealth Bomber

This book covers the origins of the Northrop B-2 Spirit, describing its complex features and detailing how they are built, how they operate, and the technology that enables them to penetrate enemy air defenses undetected and destroy their targets. Cutaway drawings, aircraft serial numbers, and cockpit details bring enthusiasts inside the top secret world of the stealth bomber.

ACC Bomber Triad: The B-52's, B-1's and B-2's of Air Combat Command
ACC Bomber Triad: The B-52’s, B-1’s and B-2’s of Air Combat Command

The United States Air Force is the only Air Force in the world with the ability to project power rapidly, precisely, and globally using strategic bombers. With their global range, large payloads and immediate response capability, Air Combat Command’s (ACC’s) heavy bombers, the B-52H, B-1B, and B-2A are at the core of the USAF’s war fighting strategy and provide both nuclear and conventional deterrent options for the United States. Don Logan’s eighth book for Schiffer Publishing Ltd. presents a roll call of ACC’s bombers with photographs and history of all 208 bombers since joining ACC in June 1992. Also included are all of the bomber’s weapons including gravity weapons, and special weapons such as AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-86 ALCM/CALCM, AGM-129 ACM, AGM-142 Have Nap, AGM-154 JSOW, and AGM-158 JASSM. This book has over 700 color photographs, 40 line drawings, and 80 unit and special purpose flight suit patches. Over 780 color photographs and 40 line drawings.

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