Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

TYPE: : Low observables strategic bomber

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America

POWERPLANTS: Four 84.5kN (19,000lb) General Electric F118-GE-110 turbofans.

PERFORMANCE: Max speed at sea level approx 915km/h (495kt). Service ceiling 50,000ft. Range with eight SRAMs and eight B83 bombs (total weapons weight 16,920kg/37,300lb) hi-hi-hi 11,665km (6300nm), hi-lo-hi with 1850km (1000nm) at low level 8150km (4400nm). Range with eight SRAMs and eight B61s (total weapons weight 10,885kg/24,000lb) hi-hi-hi 12,225km (6600nm), hi-lo-hi with 1850km (1000nm) at low level 8335km (4500nm).

WEIGHTS: Empty in 45,360kg to 49,900kg (100,000lb to 110,00lb) class, max takeoff 170,550kg (376,000lb).

DIMENSIONS: Wing span 52.43m (172ft Oin), length 21.03 (69ft Oin), height 5.18m (17ft Oin).

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two with provision for a third member.

ARMAMENT: Two Boeing rotary launcher assemblies (RLAs), one in each bomb bay, can carry a total of 16 AGM-131 SRAM Us, or AGM-129 ACMs or AGM-137 TSSAMs (Triple Service Standoff Attack Missiles). Can also carry 16 B61 tactical/strategic or B83 strategic freefall nuclear bombs, or 80 Mk 82 1000lb/450kg bombs, or 16 JDAMs, or 16 Mk 84 2000lb/910kg bombs, plus cluster bombs.

OPERATORS: USA

HISTORY: Highly controversial for its more than $US1bn unit cost, the B-2 was designed from the outset to be almost invisible to radar and is without doubt the most capable strategic bomber yet devised.
 Concept work on a totally new strategic bomber incorporating low observable or stealth technology was already underway in 1977 when the Rockwell B-1A was cancelled. The resulting Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) program was launched in 1978, while a Northrop design (with Boeing as principal subcontractor) was selected over a rival concept from Lockheed/Rockwell in June 1981. Work on the aircraft continued under complete secrecy and only the existence of the program and that the aircraft was a flying wing had been officially recognised until the B-2 was rolled out in November 1988. First flight was on July 17 1989. The USAF originally planned to acquire 133 B-2s, although the aircraft's massive cost and the end of the Cold War has seen this figure reduced to 20, although more could be funded.
 The B-2 is unlike anything before it. Its flying wing design harks back to Northrop's revolutionary postwar XB-35 and XB-49, and features a double W trailing edge with eight flying control services. The flying wing design has an inherently low radar cross section, the airframe is largely constructed of graphite/epoxy, which forms a honeycomb radar absorbent structure. Exterior surfaces are designed to minimise radar returns and heat radiation. Other features include four GE F118-GE-110 turbofans (modified non afterburning GE F110s), flyby- wire flight controls, two side by side internal weapons bays, a Hughes APG-181 low probability of intercept radar (for terrain following and last minute target position updates) behind two dielectric panels beneath the nose, a 90,720kg (200,000lb) internal fuel capacity and seating for two crew on ejection seats side by side.

 

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