The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit (also known as the Stealth Bomber) is an American strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is able to deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.
In contrast to the flat surfaces of the earlier F-117 Nighthawk, the B-2 is composed of many curved and rounded surfaces across its exposed airframe to deflect radar beams. Additional reduction in its radar signature was achieved by the use of various radar-absorbent materials (RAM) to absorb and neutralise radar beams. The B-2's clean, low-drag flying wing configuration not only gives it exceptional range but is also beneficial to reducing its radar profile.
Innovations such as alternate high-frequency material (AHFM) and automated material application methods were also incorporated into the aircraft to enhance its radar-absorbent properties and lower maintenance requirements. In early 2004, Northrop Grumman began applying a newly-developed AHFM to operational B-2s. In order to protect the operational integrity of its sophisticated radar absorbent material and coatings, each B-2 is kept inside a climate-controlled hangar large enough to accommodate its 172-foot (52 m) wingspan
Primary function: Multi-role heavy bomber
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corp. and Contractor Team: Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc.
Power Plant: Four General Electric F118-GE-100 engines
Thrust: 17,300 pounds each engine
Wingspan: 172 feet (52.12 meters)
Length: 69 feet (20.9 meters)
Height: 17 feet (5.1 meters
Weight: 160,000 pounds (72,575 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 336,500 pounds (152,634 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 167,000 pounds (75750 kilograms)
Payload: 40,000 pounds (18,144 kilograms)
Speed: High subsonic
Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Armament: Conventional or nuclear weapons
Crew: Two pilots
Unit cost: Approximately $1.157 billion (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability: April 1997
Inventory: Active force: 20 (1 test); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0