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Northrop
B-2A Spirit (1989)

The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions 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 midair refueling.

Northrop: B-2A Spirit

Role Stealth strategic heavy bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
Northrop Grumman
First flight 17 July 1989; 31 years ago
Introduction 1 January 1997
Status In service
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1987–2000
Number built 21

Northrop Millitary

Northrop B-2A Spirit (1989)

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Northrop B-2A Spirit (1989)

The Northrop (later Northrop Grumman) B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses. Designed during the Cold War, it is a flying wing design with a crew of two.[1][3] The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as 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 that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

Design

The B-2 Spirit was developed to take over the USAF’s vital penetration missions, able to travel deep into enemy territory to deploy ordnance which could include nuclear weapons.[67] The B-2 is a flying wing aircraft, meaning that it has no fuselage or tail.[67] It has significant advantages over previous bombers due to its blend of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload. Low observability provides a greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing both range and field of view for onboard sensors. The U.S. Air Force reports its range as approximately 6,000 nautical miles (6,900 mi; 11,000 km).[7][68] At cruising altitude, the B-2 refuels every six hours, taking on up to 50 short tons (45,000 kg) of fuel at a time.

Operators

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Northrop B-2A Spirit (1997)

The B-2’s low-observable, or “stealth”, characteristics enable the undetected penetration of sophisticated anti-aircraft defenses and to attack even heavily defended targets. This stealth comes from a combination of reduced acoustic, infrared, visual and radar signatures (multi-spectral camouflage) to evade the various detection systems that could be used to detect and be used to direct attacks against an aircraft. The B-2’s stealth enables the reduction of supporting aircraft that are required to provide air cover, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses and electronic countermeasures, making the bomber a “force multiplier”. As of September 2013, there have been no instances of a missile being launched at a B-2.

Specifications

  • Crew: 2: pilot (left seat) and mission commander (right seat)
  • Length: 69 ft 0 in (21.0 m)
  • Wingspan: 172 ft 0 in (52.4 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m)
  • Empty weight: 158,000 lb (71,700 kg)
  • Gross weight: 336,500 lb (152,200 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 376,000 lb (170,600 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 167,000 pounds (75,750 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × General Electric F118-GE-100 non-afterburning turbofans, 17,300 lbf (77 kN) thrust each
  • Maximum speed: 630 mph (1,010 km/h, 550 kn) at 40,000 ft altitude / Mach 0.95 at sea level[159]
  • Cruise speed: 560 mph (900 km/h, 487 kn) at 40,000 ft altitude
  • Range: 6,900 mi (11,000 km, 6,000 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
  • Wing loading: 67.3 lb/sq ft (329 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.205

2 internal bays for ordnance and payload with an official limit of 40,000 lb (18,000 kg); maximum estimated limit is 50,000 lb (23,000 kg)[68]

  • 80× 500 lb class bombs (Mk-82, GBU-38) mounted on Bomb Rack Assembly (BRA)
  • 36× 750 lb CBU class bombs on BRA
  • 16× 2,000 lb class bombs (Mk-84, GBU-31) mounted on Rotary Launcher Assembly (RLA)
  • Standoff weapon: AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)[160][161]
  • GBU-57 Massive Ordinance Penetrator

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The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions 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 midair refueling. It entered service in 1997 as the second aircraft designed to have advanced stealth technology after the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk attack aircraft. Though designed originally as primarily a nuclear bomber, the B-2 was first used in combat dropping conventional, non-nuclear ordnance in the Kosovo War in 1999. It later served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

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