Incredible Facts About the B-2 Spirit (PART ONE)
Finn Sawyer (contributor), 02/24/2019
The B-2 stealth bomber
The B-2 stealth bomber was projected to have a unit cost of $737 million when originally designed in the 1980s. However, when research and development is added on, each aircraft was valued at $2.1 billion per unit. Northrop Grumman’s technological breakthrough is a fascinating aircraft with intimidating capabilities, but it is also the source of tension among taxpayers and Congress.
Northrop originally planned on producing 132 B-2 Spirit’s. However, once the Soviet Union collapsed and there wasn’t a need for large amounts of bombers, that number was drastically reduced to 21 aircraft.
The Spirit was designed with “continuous curvature” in mind. Continuous curvature is a technique where the curved, exposed surfaces are designed to deflect radar.
The B-2’s radar cross-section is a grand total of 1.1 square feet. That’s about the same size as a pigeon.
The B-2 costs an estimated $135,000 per hour to operate.
The B-2 also has a bed, a toilet and a hot plate for food. The bed is a folding cot placed behind the ejection seat area.
The unique-looking YB-49 “Flying Wing” is a long-off ancestor of the B-2. The YB-49’s stealth design was taken to a different level with the “continuous curvature” of the B-2.
The B-2 can carry 40,000 pounds of bombs. The B-52 bomber can carry much more (70,000 pounds), but the Spirit’s ability to get into enemy territory undetected combined with pinpoint accuracy mean the B-2’s 40,000 pounds of bombs are usually more effective.
The B-2 has a range of 6,900 miles. That means the B-2 can make it from New York to India without refueling.
In 1984, a Northrop employee named Thomas Cavanaugh was arrested for attempting to leak information of its design to the Soviet Union in exchange for $25,000.
Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer who worked on the B-2’s propulsion system, was arrested in October of 2005. Gowadia sold B-2 related classified information to foreign countries and received 32 years in prison for his actions.
The B-2 was developed as a “Gray Project”, meaning that its development was a secret to the public but was known by certain government agencies and officials.
The B-2 was, and still is, a dramatic leap forward in design technology. It is an all-wing aircraft with no fuselage and no vertical tail – reducing any surface that would cause drag on the plane.
The B-2 comes outfitted with the Raytheon AN/APQ-181 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Therefore, not only is it nearly invisible to enemy radar, but it can see enemy aircraft using one of the most advanced radars in the world.