B-2 Spirit Pic GalleryThe Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB), as it was known for many years, was scheduled to take over the penetration role from Rockwell's B-1B in the middle 1990's, freeing that aircraft to supplant the antediluvian B-52 in the stand-off missile carrying role. Survivability was to be dependent on low observables technology rather than hiding down in the weeds using extensive countermeasures. This technology had already been demonstrated by the Lockheed XST, and in June of `81 the decision was taken to proceed with the ATB which would follow the B-1B into service quite quickly. Northrop was awarded the contract for a full scale development in November of that year. It was widely rumoured that the ATB would have a flying wing configuration, a story fuelled by the fact that Northrop had a track record of producing bombers with this platform, like the XB-35 in the mid 1940's. The flying wing has certain advantages in that with no fuselage and tail, there is less drag-producing wetted aread, while loads can be distributed evenly across the span to producing a lighter structure. Meanwhile advances had been made in computer technology which enabled the radar refectivity of curved surfaces to be predicted, which assisted in producing a stealty design. This was not avalible for the F-117 Nighthawk. The aircraft had advantages in the field also, as the crew, engines, avionics and weapons bays could be sunk in the depth of the center section with only minimal protuberances, while vertical stabilising and control surfaces, which often form radar reflection, could be eliminated altogether. The First B-2A was rolled out at Palmdale on 22 November 1988, in front of a carefully selected audience. The external shape was very smooth, and made extensive use of radar absorbant material (RAM). First flight took place on the 17th of July 1989, when the prototypes left Palmdale for Edwards AFB where the majority of the flight test program was carried out. Recently, there have been reports on the stealtyness of the aircraft. Reports say that the B-2 can be detected on radar when miniscul scraches are produced. These scraches form when the B-2 Bomber is flying in rain. The RAM is worn out, thus reflecting radar signals. The B-2 which costs approxamitly 2 billion dollars is too expensive for the U.S. Goverment to pay, and that is why only token numbers will be built.

Nation of Orgin: USA
Constructor: Northrop
Type: Strategic Bomber
Lenth: 69ft
Height: 17ft
Span: 172ft
Wing Area: 5000sq ft
Max t-o weight: 371,330lb
Engines: Four 19,000lb GE F118-100 Turbofans without afterburner
Max speed: at altitude Mach 0.9
Ceiling: 50,000ft
Range: 7,500 Nautical Miles
Armament: Typically 16 SPRAM IIs, AGM-129s or B-83 free fall special weapons, max weapons load
49,317lb; up to 80,500lb in MARK 82 bombs or Sea Mines
History: First Flight July of 1989
Users: U.S. Strategic Airforce