The B-2 Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, are responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development of aircraft as they are produced.
Whiteman AFB, Mo., is now the B2 bomber's only operational base. Their first aircraft, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered December 17, 1993. Depot maintenance responsibility for the B2 bomber is performed by Air Force contractor support.
The prime contractors responsible for overall system design and integration of the B2 bomber are: Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector. Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc.
Mission of the B2 Stealth BomberThe B2 Spirit bomber is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the B2 bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B2 Spirit brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.
Features of the B2 Stealth BomberAlong with the B52 bomber and B1-B bomber, the B2 bomber provides the penetrating flexibility and effectiveness inherent in manned bombers. Its low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. Its capability to penetrate air defenses and threaten effective retaliation provide a strong, effective deterrent and combat force well into the 21st century.
The revolutionary blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B2 Spirit important advantages over existing bombers. Its low-observability provides it greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. Its unrefueled range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles.
The B2 Spirit's low observability is derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and radar signatures. These signatures make it difficult for the sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track and engage the B2 bomber. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B2's composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its "stealthiness."
The B2 Spirit has a crew of two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right, compared to the B1-B's crew of four and the B52's crew of five.