The United States Military has a lot of military aircrafts at their disposal. The Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber is just one of their best air vehicles. Since its official launch in 1997, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber has become nothing short of impressive. Perhaps it is the reason why it’s still on active duty despite its long tenure in the service. As a legendary aircraft, there are lots of fascinating B-2 Stealth Bomber facts that you need to know.
As a bomber jet, it is the B-2’s mission to carry out heavy bombs while maintaining stealth and penetrating anti-aircraft defense. It has been developed since the Carter administration, too, with a lot of controversies surrounding the project because of the expensive operational cost. If you want to learn more about this awesome and legendary bomber jet, don’t go anywhere, because we’re going to bring up insane Stealth Bomber facts that you probably haven’t heard yet.
1. The B-2 Bomber Project is Top Secret, But Nearly Got Leaked
Let’s start off this list with one of the most fascinating B-2 Stealth Bomber facts ever. As we know, the B-2 Stealth Bombers are a highly-advanced aircraft. It makes sense if the government decided to keep the development of this aircraft a top secret. The details of B-2 Stealth Bomber’s technology are accessible for several people only. However, there has been an attempt to leak the information from an employee working at Northrop.
The perpetrator’s name is Thomas Patrick Cavanagh. In the 80s, he tried to sell the information regarding B-2’s tech to Soviet spies. Thankfully, the FBI managed to learn about his schemes before things got out of hand. As a result of his crime, Thomas Patrick Cavanagh was sentenced to life imprisonment.
2. The Stealth Bomber is the Most Expensive Aircraft Made by the United States
Over the years, the United States has spent a lot of money developing highly-advanced aircrafts to reinforce the military army. The V-22 Osprey, VH-71 Kestrel, and the F-22 Raptor are some of the most expensive aircrafts ever made. But none of them beats the B-2 in terms of cost, which costs 737 million dollars.
But wait a minute, because the amount that we’ve just mentioned was just the original unit cost to make one aircraft back in 1997. When you also include other things, like adjustments and maintenance into account, the cost will rise up to 2.1 billion dollars! When you think about it, than you’ll know why the development of B-2 Stealth Bombers generate a lot of controversies.
3. There are 21 B-2 Stealth Bombers, a Lot Less Than the Original Plan
Plans for making the awesome B-2 bombers have been in place since the cold war began. Originally, the US government were originally planning to make 132 B-2 bombers in total. This high amount of bombers were probably meant as a precautionary should the cold war escalated into something worse. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, the number saw a significant reduction from the original 132 to just 21 aircraft. But even with a small quantity, these bombers are still able to serve the military efficiently.
4. The B-2 Stealth Bomber Can Avoid Radars
When you think about stealth jets, you’re going to be imagining nimble and small jets that are able to travel so fast, and even radars can’t detect them, right? Well, B-2 bombers aren’t that big, but size and speed are not the main reason for their stealth. In fact, the main reason behind that amazing advantage is because of the B-2’s radar-absorbent surface. Radars pick up radio waves that are transmitted back to them. But these radar-absorbent surfaces are good enough at absorbing radio waves. They are really expensive. Luckily, those expenses really pay off!
Aside from that cool material, the plane’s unique shape also plays an important part in hiding it from radars. B-2’s peculiar shape helps in fending off radio beams. The Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber is also quiet, which makes it one of the best stealth jets ever. Without a doubt, this is one of the coolest Stealth Bomber facts!
5. The Stealth Bomer Has a Payload of 20 Tons
Fact number 6 is probably one of the most fascinating B-2 Stealth Bomber facts that will definitely amaze you. As a bomber aircraft, it makes perfect sense if the B-2 Spirit is able to carry a lot of weight inside. In fact, the official site of Northrop Grumman states that one B-2 Bomber jet can carry a payload of 20 tons. Inside the jet, you will find a lot of heavy-duty weapons and bombs. To be precise, there are 80 Mk. 82 500-pound bombs and a 4,700 pound “deep penetrator” that is able to destroy deeply buried command control bunkers. On top of it, the B-2 Jet also has a twin bay that is able to fire a lot of ammos at a very short time. Truly a menacing aircraft!
6. Despite Carrying Heavy Items, B-2s are Fast as Heck
B-2 bombers are able to carry loads of heavyweight weapons. However, they are still able to reach maximum speed that rivals other fighter jets like the SR-71 Blackbird. According to the official specifications, a B-2 stealth bomber is able to reach up to 1010 kilometer per hour or 628 miles per hour. Northrop describes it as high subsonic. It is just a bit slower than Mach-1 speed! With this amazing speed, B-2 bombers are able to deceive radars and stay invisible while carrying out their mission.
7. Every Aircraft Has Their Own Unique Name
To date, there are a total of 21 B-2 Stealth Bombers that has seen the light of day. However, it is cool to learn that each unit has their own individual name, inspired from a state in the USA. The first ever aircraft was named the Spirit of Missouri. Then, you have the Spirit of Texas, the Spirit of New York, the Spirit of Kansas, and so on. North Carolina has a nickname of “Kitty Hawk”, in honor of the Wright’s brother historic flight.
Almost all of the B-2 Stealth Bomber are still in active duty, barring the “Spirit of Kansas”. During a takeoff from Guam in 2008, it crashed and burned. Thankfully, all the crew survived the accident. In 2010, the “Spirit of Kitty Hawk” suffered the same fate. However, we can still repair and restore those units.
8. It Didn’t Take Too Long for the Stealth Bomber to Shine
Some aircraft, like the iconic F-22 Raptor jet, need to wait for a very long time before tasting real combat missions. However, it just takes a couple of year for the B-2 Stealth Bomber to really shine. In 1999, they took part in the Kosovo War and managed to be the center of attention.
Although they are not as fast and cannot carry as much bombs as their predecessors, their stealth technology has proven to be really beneficial. In the coming years, the B-2 Spirits were deployed in several wars, most notably the 2001 Afghanistan War and the 2011 Libya intervention.
9. Setting Record for Longest Bombing Run Ever
The B-2 Stealth Bombers are really effective aircrafts that benefits the military. It has even set the record for the longest bombing run ever. The record was broken during the raid to Afghanistan in 2001, in response to the devastating 9/11 attack. During that run, there were a total of six B-2 Bombers, including the Spirit of America. They have to be on the air for 44 hours, thus breaking the record in the process.
10. The B-2 Has Its Own Bed, Toilet, and Microwave for the Crew
The B-2 bomber might be able to run for 44 hours, and the crew inside definitely need a rest. Soldiers and pilots inside will have shifts so that they can work with maximum efficiency. That’s probably the reason why beds, toilets, and microwave are available inside this cool bomber.
Those facilities are available inside the bomber so that the crew can take a rest and refresh themselves before continuing on vital missions. Seeing these facilities is unique because no other bomber has these facilities.
11. The B-2 Stealth Bomber Can Fly Long Distance Without Refueling
We have come closer to the end of the list of fascinating B-2 Stealth Bomber facts. This one is a fact about fuel requirements. One of the many concerns from having bombers is the range that it can reach, without the need to refuel. After all, bomber aircrafts need to carry a lot of weights inside, such as bombs and heavy-duty weapons.
With the B-2 bombers, you won’t have to worry about this kind of thing anymore. Each bomber is able to reach a range of 6,000 nautical miles without the need to refuel! It means that the B-2 bombers are able to fly from New York to Egypt in one take-off.
12. Plans to Replace the B-2 Stealth Bomber are Already in Place
Despite its old age, B-2 Stealth Bombers still prove to be one of the best aircrafts that the US military have. All of the facts that we have mentioned earlier can certainly back up that statement. But in order to move forward, upgrades are always necessary. That’s the reason why the government are already looking to replace the iconic bomber with B-21 Raider in 2032.
B-21 Raiders have similar resemblance to the current B-2 Bomber. The most notable difference will be the size. If development process goes according to plan, B-2 Bombers will retire in 2032, just in time for the official introduction of the next level bomber aircraft. Now that you know about 12 mind blowing Stealth Bomber facts, you probably can’t wait for what the next bomber aircraft will be like, isn’t it?