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Upgraded B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber Makes a Stunning Surprise Appearance!

The B-2 Spirit is a stealthy, strategic, long-range, heavy-duty bomber designed to infiltrate complex and robust air-defense systems. It can carry out attack missions at any altitude up to 50,000 feet and has a range of over 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled, extending to over 10,000 nautical miles with one aerial refueling. This enables it to reach any location on the globe within hours.

Initially developed by Northrop (later Northrop Grumman), the B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy strategic bomber that features low-observable stealth technology to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses. Created during the Cold War, it has a flying-wing design and accommodates a crew of two. The subsonic bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, including up to eighty 500-pound class (230 kg) Mk 82 JDAM GPS-guided bombs or sixteen 2,400-pound (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft capable of carrying large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

Development of the B-2 began under the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (ATB) project during the Carter administration, with its anticipated performance being one of the President’s reasons for canceling the Mach 2 capable B-1A bomber. The ATB project persisted during the Reagan administration, but concerns about delays in its introduction led to the reinstatement of the B-1 program. Program costs increased throughout development, and each aircraft, designed and manufactured by Northrop, later Northrop Grumman, had an average cost of US$737 million (in 1997 dollars). Total procurement costs, including spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support, averaged $929 million per aircraft. The total program cost, accounting for development, engineering, and testing, averaged $2.13 billion per aircraft in 1997.

Due to its high capital and operational costs, the project faced controversy in the U.S. Congress. The decline of the Cold War in the late 1980s considerably reduced the need for the aircraft, which was initially designed to penetrate Soviet airspace and target high-value assets. During the late 1980s and 1990s, Congress cut plans to purchase 132 bombers to just 21. In 2008, a B-2 was destroyed in a crash shortly after takeoff, but the crew ejected safely. As of 2018, twenty B-2s are in service with the United States Air Force, which intends to operate them until 2032, when they are set to be replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.

The B-2 is capable of conducting attack missions at all altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,000 m), with a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles (6,900 mi; 11,000 km) on internal fuel and over 10,000 nautical miles (12,000 mi; 19,000 km) with one in-flight refueling. It entered service in 1997 as the second aircraft designed with advanced stealth technology, following the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft. Although originally intended as primarily a nuclear bomber, the B-2 was first used in combat to drop conventional, non-nuclear ordnance in the Kosovo War in 1999. It later served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

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