Air International 2006-09
L.Peacock - B-2 Spirit. Northrop Grumman's Silver Bullet /Military/
Northrop Grumman's B-2 Spirit
America retains a credible nuclear deterrent, even in the post-Cold War era, and regular exercises are held to ensure that B-2 Spirits can deliver a nuclear response, should one ever be necessary. Aircraft mechanics are pictured preparing a B-2 for an early morning mission.
Among the recent weapons integrated with the B-2 is the GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB). Two variants are being developed, a INS/GPS-guided bomb for fixed targets and a thermal seeking version for striking mobile targets. Although small, the SDB’s 50lb warhead is claimed to have the same penetration capability as the 2,000lb BLU-109.
This formation of a B-2 and F-117As clearly illustrates the different solutions to achieving low radar observability. The Nighthawk has a faceted structure whereas the Spirit's airframe is contoured. Another interesting difference between the types is the lack of tail control surfaces on the B-2.
509th Bomb Wing B-2 89-0127/'WM' Spirit of Kansas seen taxiing at RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory, on July 27, 2006 prior to a hot (engines running) crew change. This was the first time a B-2 had landed in Australia, the aircraft having made the seven-hour flight from Guam. Under an agreement signed in 2004, PACAF aircraft and crews will undertake a regular programme of weapons and navigation training visits. For the flight back to Andersen AFB, one of the pilots was Sqn Ldr David Arthurton, who is on an RAF personnel exchange posting to the 13th Expeditionary Bomb Sqn.
In-flight refuelling allows the B-2 to strike at targets anywhere on Earth - an incredible feat considering that the aircraft has only a two-man crew. As in-flight refuelling is such an important element of B-2 operations, crews have to remain in current practice, day, night and in all-weather conditions. The two tankers routinely used are the Boeing KC-10A Extender and KC-135 Stratotanker seen here.
Eight 6in liquid crystal multi-function displays dominate the cockpit instrument panel. All relevant information, for systems, navigation or attack, can be displayed to either pilot. Note the 'fighter-type' control stick rather than the more usual 'spectacle' control column fitted to large aircraft. Both crewmembers sit on ACES II zero-zero ejection seats.
This formation of a B-2 and F-117As clearly illustrates the different solutions to achieving low radar observability. The Nighthawk has a faceted structure whereas the Spirit's airframe is contoured. Another interesting difference between the types is the lack of tail control surfaces on the B-2.
In-flight refuelling allows the B-2 to strike at targets anywhere on Earth - an incredible feat considering that the aircraft has only a two-man crew. As in-flight refuelling is such an important element of B-2 operations, crews have to remain in current practice, day, night and in all-weather conditions. The two tankers routinely used are the Boeing KC-10A Extender and KC-135 Stratotanker seen here.