And More Incredible Facts About the B-2 Spirit (PART THREE)
Andrew Leaf (contributor), 02/24/2019
The B-2 is the only U.S. aircraft that combines stealth, large payload and long range in a single platform.
The B-2 is the only U.S. aircraft that combines stealth, large payload and long range in a single platform. The Spirit is combat effective up to 50,000 feet of altitude.
In 1997, each hour of B-2 flight required 119 hours of maintenance. Comparatively, the B-52 and the B-1B require 53 and 60 hours respectively for each hour of flight.
Maintenance costs run around $3.4 million per month for each aircraft. A large reason is because the “low-observable” skins require fully air-conditioned hangars that are also large enough to fit its 172 foot wingspan.
The B-2s do not run “stealthy” at all times. When apporaching enemy air defenses, pilot’s essentially turn on stealth mode – a series of manuevers that the public does not know.
If the B-2 needs to drop a payload of munitions, the stealth is compromised. The bomb bays are very susceptible to radar.
A large majority of the B-2 consists of a carbon-graphite composite material that is lighter than aluminum, stronger than steel and absorbs radar energy.
In 2017 two B-2 pilots flew from Missouria to Libya and back without stopping once. That’s a 32-hour mission with multiple in-flight refuels.
The B-2 was one of the first planes ever to use the fly-by-wire system. Rather than using mechanical movements to control the flaps directly, the pilots operate a computer that controls the steering.
The B-2 was the first U.S. aircraft in action during Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011. The B-2 assisted in enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.
The B-2’s combat effectiveness was proved in Operation Allied Force in 1998 where it destroyed 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks. The B-2 flew nonstop to Kosovo from its home base in Missouri and back.
B-2’s operate on a two-man crew and the two crewman run around-the-clock missions sometimes. One crew member sleeps at a time and then they rotate.
The United States’ fleet of bombers, which consist of the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, and B-52 Stratofortress are getting old. These aircraft are an average of 33 years old per plane.
Since 1989, B-2 Spirits have flown more than 14,000 sorties and accumulated more than 75,000 flight operating hours.
The Spirit completed its first-ever combat deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying over 45 sorties in all and releasing more than 1.5 million pounds of munitions.
A B-2 airstrike was considered in the 2011 raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. However, the potential for damage to surrounding civilians was too great to green light the airstrike.