This alien looking, tailless, bat-like aircraft is probably the most feared bird of war on the planet; and for a good reason. Here is why.
Some brief history on the B-2
The American strategic bomber with cutting-edge stealth technology, officially known as the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the Stealth Bomber or B-2 Spirit, is built to overcome several anti-aircraft defenses.
The B-2 underwent extensive research and development from the 1970s until the late 1980s.
The project was contentious in the US Congress due to the aircraft's exorbitant costs.
The bomber was no longer really necessary after the end of the Cold War. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Congress cut the number of bombers it wanted to purchase from 132 to 21.
Although the aircraft had its first flight on July 17, 1989, it wasn't until 1997 that it was formally introduced.
Why is it feared so much?
The B-2's innovative design and technology allow it to be practically undetectable to many infrared seekers despite having four engines.
Very little sheet metal, a mixture of more than 200 chemicals, sheets of composite material, and high-tech paints make up the body.
A B-2 enters "stealth mode" as it approaches defended airspace, retracting antennas, cutting off certain communication links, and even limiting the use of its flaps.
The B-2 draws heavily on nature for design inspiration.
It also functions as an optical trick. When seen from a certain perspective, the airplane seems to be a thin line, or "flying wing," as the design is known.
When seen from a slightly different angle, the entire object resembles a globular flying torpedo. Because of this, the B-2 may be challenging to locate in the sky and identify.
It is extremely difficult to detect using current technology due to a combination of all these variables.
Speed and Range
When fully fueled, the B-2 has a top speed of 1 010 km/h and a range of more than 11 000 km.
The B-2 could theoretically travel from Johannesburg to Durban in around 30 minutes, to put this in perspective. This article will have traveled 67 kilometres by the time you have finished reading it in 4 minutes, which is the same distance as from Johannesburg to Pretoria.
Additionally, it has the capacity to refuel in midair. This effectively extends its range indefinitely with enough support.
The payload capacity of the B-2 is 20 tons. Its armament includes a variety of maritime weapons, conventional and nuclear weapons, precision-guided munitions, and gravity bombs.
Two bomb-rack assemblies and a rotary launcher are included in each armament compartment.
The B-2 is not just for battle; extensive research on the human body's sleep and energy cycles was done while the B-2 Spirit was being developed.
Due to the lengthy trips, engineers assessed that certain sleeping facilities may be needed. As a result, while one crew member is flying the aircraft, another can rest in a camp bed.
There is a full bathroom inside as well.
Each B-2 unit costs $737 million (R10 billion). In addition, they are extremely expensive to maintain; the B-2 alone costs $130,159 (R1.9 million) per hour to run.
The B-2 is 32 years old this year, and as technology advances, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the B-2 to evade more sophisticated radar systems and complete its missions.
The B-2 will actually be phased out by the US Air Force in the 2030s. For this reason, it has given Grumman Corp. a fresh contract to build the B-21 bomber.
Its superior stealth will be useful against more modern radar systems. The B-2, B-1B, and B-52 are all intended to be replaced by it.
There will be a cap on the number of platforms the USAF can purchase because each one will be highly expensive. In the middle to end of the 2020s, the B-21 might join the combat inventory and incorporate as much of the F-35 development as possible.
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