B-2 Spirit

B-2 Spirit stealth bomberThe B-2 stealth bomber combines revolutionary aerospace technologies for the world's most advanced aircraft. With its unique flying wing configuration, it is a highly versatile multi-role bomber, capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional munitions.

The sleek, lethal-looking bomber is reminiscent of the B-35, developed by Northrop during the 1940s, and uses advanced composites, such as resin-impregnated graphite fiber, rather than metal.

As part of an industry team led by Northrop, Boeing built the outboard portion of the B-2 stealth bomber wing, the aft center fuselage section, landing gears, fuel system and weapons delivery system. At its peak in 1991, the B-2 was the largest military program at Boeing, employing about 10,000 people. The same year, the National Aeronautic Association of the U.S.A. awarded the B-2 design team the Collier Trophy for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, demonstrated in actual use.

The first B-2 rolled out of the bomber's final assembly facility in Palmdale, Calif., in November 1988 and it flew for the first time on July 17, 1989.

The first B-2 entered the Air Force's operational fleet at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., on Dec. 17, 1993. On Oct. 29, 1994, the Air Force's fourth operational B-2 was named "Spirit of Washington" in Seattle, Wash., to honor the people of the state who helped make the B-2 a reality. During 2001, the B-2 flew missions to Afghanistan nonstop from Whiteman Air Force Base. In 2004, there were 21 B-2s assigned to the U.S. Air Force 509th Bomb Wing. As part of the Air Force B-2 industry team, Boeing built primary structural components; supplied the bomber's fuel systems, weapons-delivery system and landing gear; worked on the B-2's smart bomb racks; and upgraded the SATCOM radios.

First flight: July 17, 1989
Classification: Bomber
Span: 172 feet
Length: 69 feet
Gross weight: 336,500 pounds
Cruising speed: High subsonic
Range: 6,000 miles plus
Ceiling: 50,000 feet
Power: Four 19,000-pound-thust F118-GE-100 engines
Accommodation: 2 crew
Armament: More than 40,000-pound nuclear or conventional weapon payload