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 B-2 Spirit

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PostSubject: B-2 Spirit   Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:59 pm

B-2 SPIRIT











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DETAILS :


Role : Stealth bomber
National origin : United States
Manufacturer : Northrop Corporation ; Northrop Grumman
First flight : 17 July 1989
Introduction : April 1997
Status : Active ; service - 20 aircraft
Primary user : United States Air Force
Number built : 21
Program cost : US$44.75 billion (projected through 2004)
Unit cost : $737 million (1997 air vehicle cost per aircraft)



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SPECIFICATIONS :


General Characteristics :

Crew : 2 (bomber,missile-launch)
Length : 69 ft (21.0 m)
Wingspan : 172 ft (52.4 m)
Height : 17 ft (5.18 m)
Wing area : 5,140 ft² (478 >m²)
Empty weight : 158,000 lb (71,700 kg)
Loaded weight : 336,500 lb (152,200 kg)
Max takeoff weight : 376,000 lb (170,600 kg)
Powerplant : 4× General Electric F118-GE-100 non-afterburning turbofans, 17,300 lbf (77 kN) each



Performance :

Maximum speed : Mach 0.95 (525 knots, 604 mph, 972 km/h)
Cruise speed : Mach 0.85 (470 knots, 541 mph, 870 km/h)
Range : 6,000 nmi (11,100 km (6,900 mi))
Service ceiling : 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
Wing loading : 67.3 lb/ft² (329 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight : 0.205



Armament :

2 internal bays for 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of ordnance.
80× 500 lb class bombs (Mk-82) mounted on Bomb Rack Assembly (BRA)
36× 750 lb CBU class bombs on BRA
16× 2000 lb class weapons (Mk-84, JDAM-84, JDAM-102) mounted on Rotary Launcher Assembly (RLA)
16× B61 or B83 nuclear weapons on RLA



Avionics :

Later avionics and equipment improvements allow B-2A to carry JSOW and GBU-28s as well. The Spirit is also designated as a delivery aircraft for the AGM-158 JASSM when the missile enters service.




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BACKGROUND


The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit (also known as the "Stealth Bomber") is a multirole heavy bomber with "low observable" stealth technology capable of penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses to deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. Because of its considerable capital and operations costs, the project was controversial in Congress and among Pentagon brass during its development and placement into service. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the United States scaled back initial plans to purchase 132 of the bombers. By the mid 1990s, Congress made appropriations to purchase a total fleet of just 21 of the bombers.

The cost of each air vehicle averaged US$737 million in 1997 dollars. Total procurement costs averaged US$929 million per plane, which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support. The total program cost, which includes development, engineering and testing, averaged US$2.1 billion per aircraft (in 1997 dollars).

Twenty B-2s are operated by the United States Air Force. Though originally designed in the 1980s for Cold War operations scenarios, B-2s have been used in combat to drop bombs on Kosovo in the late 1990s, and see continued use during the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One aircraft was lost when it crashed on takeoff in 2008.

The crew of two aboard the bomber can drop up to eighty 500 lb (230 kg) class JDAM "smart" bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs in a single pass through extremely dense anti-aircraft defenses. It has been the subject of espionage and counter-espionage activity. The bomber has been a prominent public spectacle at air shows since the 1990s.



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DESIGN


As with the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1 Lancer, the B-2 provides the versatility inherent in manned bombers. Like other bombers, its assigned targets can be canceled or changed while in flight, the particular weapon assigned to a target can be changed, and the timing of attack, or the route to the target can be changed while in flight. In addition, its low-observable, or "stealth", characteristics give it the ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated anti-aircraft defenses to attack its most heavily defended targets.

The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design, integration and support, is Northrop Grumman. Boeing, Raytheon (formerly Hughes Aircraft), G.E. and Vought Aircraft Industries, are subcontractors.

The blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B-2 significant advantages over previous bombers. The U.S. Air Force purports the aircraft has "high aerodynamic efficiency" and states its range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles (6,905 mi (11,113 km). Also, its low-observation ability provides the B-2 greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and providing a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. It combines GPS Aided Targeting System (GATS) with GPS-aided bombs such as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). This uses its passive electronically scanned array APQ-181 radar to correct GPS errors of targets and gain much better than laser-guided weapon accuracy when "dumb" gravity bombs are equipped with a GPS-aided "smart" guidance tail kit. It can bomb 16 targets in a single pass when equipped with 1,000 or 2,000-pound (450 kg or 900 kg) bombs, or as many as 80 when carrying 500 lb (230 kg) bombs.

The B-2's stealth comes from a combination of reduced acoustic, infrared, visual and radar signatures, making it difficult for opposition defenses to detect, track and engage the aircraft. Many specific aspects of the low-observability process remain classified.


The B-2's low observability originates from stealth technology exploited for the F-117. Russian-born physicist and mathematician Pyotr Ufimtsev, whose theoretical work made the F-117 and B-2 possible, was hired by Northrop at one time. Additionally, the B-2's composite materials, special coatings and flying wing design, which reduces the number of leading edges, contribute to its stealth characteristics. Each B-2 requires a climate-controlled hangar large enough for its 172-foot (52 m) wingspan to protect the operational integrity of its sophisticated radar absorbent material and coatings. The engines are buried within the wing to conceal the induction fans and hide their exhaust.

The B-2 has a crew of two: a pilot in the left seat, and mission commander in the right. The B-2 has provisions for a third crew member if needed. For comparison, the B-1B has a crew of four and the B-52 has a crew of five. B-2 crews have been used to pioneer sleep cycle research to improve crew performance on long sorties. The B-2 is highly automated, and, unlike two-seat fighters, one crew member can sleep, use a toilet or prepare a hot meal while the other monitors the aircraft.



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UPGRADES


In 2008, the US Congress funded upgrades to the B-2s weapon control systems for hitting moving targets.

On 29 December 2008, Air Force officials awarded a production contract to Northrop Grumman to modernize the B-2 fleet's radar. The contract provides advanced state-of-the-art radar components, with the aim of sustained operational viability of the B-2 fleet into the future. The contract has a target value of approximately US$468 million. The award follows successful flight testing with the upgraded equipment. A modification to the radar was needed since the U.S. Department of Commerce required the B-2 to use a different radar frequency.

On 13 May 2009, an upgrade to the B-2's software was announced.



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IMAGE GALLERY


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