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5 Facts about the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, the US' Ultimate Weapon in the Air

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    5 Facts about the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, the US' Ultimate Weapon in the Air

    The B-2 Spirit is a bomber aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force (US) which has the capability to carry conventional bombs and tactical and strategic nuclear bombs. Known as the US military's ultimate weapon in the air because the bomber has stealth characteristics, its presence on the battlefield is very difficult for its opponents to detect. 

    The bomber has the ability to carry loads of various types of bombs in revolvers and bomb racks in its belly of up to 20 tons to destroy high-value targets belonging to its opponents.

    Reported by the Air Force, the B-2 Spirit is a dramatic leap in the field of military aerospace technology because the aircraft represents a major achievement in the US bomber modernization program with its ability to carry large firepower, be able to reach points anywhere in the world in a short time and penetrate air defenses. even the strongest. Whiteman Air Base, Missouri is the primary US military air base that operates the B-2 Spirit.

    Want to know more about the B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft? Let's take a look at the five facts!

    1. Designed to penetrate enemy air defenses without being detected

    This aircraft, made by Northrop Grumman as the main contractor, has a strange and different shape when compared to other US Air Force fighter aircraft. The B-2 Spirit has the characteristics of being invisible to radar or stealth and is designed to penetrate even very strong enemy air defenses.

    Reported by Military-History, development of the B-2 Spirit began in the Cold War era with a program entitled Advanced Technology Bomber in the late 1970s during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Initially, the stealth bomber was designed to have the ability to penetrate the Soviet Union's air defenses and attack high-value and strategic targets with high precision without being detected.

    The B-2 Spirit was first shown to the public in 1988 at Air Force Plant 42 Palmdale, California and entered official operational service with the US Air Force in 1997. It is manned by a crew of two, one pilot in the left seat and one mission commander in the right-hand seat.

    2. Has been tested on real battlefields and has never been shot down

    Has been tested on real battlefields and has never been shot down

    As a strategic bomber, the B-2 Spirit has been tested on real battlefields. Reported by Northropgrumman, the B-2 Spirit was first involved in the Balkan battle, known as the Kosovo War, in 1999 when NATO provided air support to force Serbian troops to withdraw from Kosovo. 

    Two B-2 Spirits flew for more than 31 hours from their base in Whiteman, Missouri to Kosovo, striking a number of targets and flying back to their base. On that mission, B-2 Spirit combat flights were only 1 percent of the total mission but destroyed 33 percent of targets during the first 8 weeks of the conflict. 

    Furthermore, in military conflicts involving the US military, such as the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, the Libya war, the B-2 Spirit became one of the US fighter aircraft that became a mainstay in the combat arena and was greatly feared by its opponents. It is also a fact that not a single B-2 Spirit has been shot down during a combat mission, although there have been a number of accidents that have occurred outside of combat missions.

    3. Named after the states of the United States

    Except for two aircraft, the B-2 Spirit of America and the B-2 Spirit of Kitty Hawk, the other 19 B-2 Spirit bombers were named after US states such as: Spirit of Arizona, Spirit of New York, Spirit of Alaska, Spirit of Pennsylvania and so on. 

    Reported by Military-History, there are 21 B-2 Spirit aircraft produced by the manufacturer and all have been handed over to the US Air Force. Of the 21 aircraft, there was one aircraft called the B-2 Spirit of Kansas which in 2008 had an accident shortly after taking off from Guam's Andersen Base. 

    The plane was destroyed, fortunately both crew members managed to eject, Spirit of Kansas being the only total loss in the B-2 Spirit fleet. Other accidents also happened to two other B-2 Spirits, namely: Spirit of Washington in 2010 and Spirit of Georgia in 2021, but both could be repaired.

    4. The technology is not owned by the US's closest rivals or allies

    The B-2 Spirit is operated exclusively by the US Air Force due to its sensitive and secret high technology. At least until 2022, no rival or ally of the US will have an aircraft similar to the B-2 Spirit. This bomber, which has high subsonic speed and has the ability to refuel in the air, can handle almost any precision bombing at almost any location on earth.

    As reported by Nationalinterest, in the internal weapons storage space in its belly, the B-2 Spirit is capable of carrying various types of bomb munitions, both conventional bombs and nuclear bombs as well as surface air missiles up to more than 20 tons. 

    The bombs it can carry include: B61 and B83 nuclear bombs, conventional bombs: Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), Mk.82 general purpose, air-to-ground surface missiles: AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon and so on.

    Reported by Northropgrumman, the B-2 Spirit also holds the record for carrying out the longest combat flight mission in history. In 2001, a number of B-2 Spirits carried out combat flight missions from their bases in the US to Afghanistan and back again for more than 70 hours with a crew change on the ground (pit stop) of 45 minutes with the engine still running.

    5. Has a successor called the B-21 Raider

    The B-2 Spirit already has its next generation in the future. On December 2 2022, for the first time in more than 30 years, the US Air Force showed its newest stealth bomber, named the B-21 Raider. This aircraft, made by Northrop Grumman, which at first glance looks similar to the B-2 Spirit, will become the backbone of the US Air Force's strategic bombing force in the future.

    As reported by Defensenews, when the B-21 Raider enters operational service, the aircraft will replace the B-1 Lancer Bomber and then the B-2 Spirit which is planned to start in the 2030s. 

    Not much is still known about the B-21 Raider, whose name was taken to commemorate the mission of the US bomber fleet's attack on Japan under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle in the World War II era (Doolittle Raid). However, the B-21 Raider is the 6th generation US bomber that was born in the 21st century with technology that is far more advanced than the previous generation.

    Even though it has a successor, the B-2 Spirit will still fly with the US Air Force for quite a long time until it will eventually have to be retired. Apart from being one of the most expensive fighter aircraft, the B-2 Spirit is an engineering marvel in the world of military aviation that amazes many analysts and aviation fans.

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