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World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit

World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit: In 1999, the Fourth Yugoslav War or Kosovo War raged in Europe. NATO, the world’s largest military alliance, has launched an attack on Serbia to avoid a Muslim genocide like Bosnia. Six particular bombers flew from the United States to Serbia on a non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean, covering about five and a half thousand miles. 

The generals of the European country’s air defense brigade then had their hands on their heads. They were preparing all the anti-aircraft missiles and radar to avoid a sudden NATO airstrike after close ally Russia warned them. But after the airstrikes began, we saw them be of no use. The enemy’s strange, strange bombers are far from being shot down by missiles; it is not visible on the radar!

The planes returned to their bases five and a half thousand miles away after wreaking havoc in a matter of minutes on critical military installations in and around the capital Belgrade! The planes flew in the sky for 30 hours to cover this immense distance. You may wonder, is there a sophisticated aircraft in the world that can go so far and attack and come back? Today we will tell you the story of the world’s most expensive aircraft, B-2 Spirit (B-2 Spirit). This US-made long-range bomber is said to be one wonder of the aviation world.

Long-range bombers have been in demand since before World War II. During the Cold War, other superpowers, including the United States and the Soviet Union, began building such advanced aircraft. Following this, the US Air Force formed the ‘ Global Strike Squadron. ‘

The primary force of this fleet is the aircraft capable of carrying out airstrikes from the United States to any part of the world. The speed of the famous B-52 bomber of the Cold War era was low. Again, the radar cross-section (RCS) was too high to be easily detected on advanced Soviet radar. As a result, the US Air Force felt the need for stealth bombers. From the 1970s, the United States began experimenting with stealth warplanes capable of evading radar.

ATB program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA), a US defense research organization, spearheads most government-advanced technology projects. In 1974, the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) project called for the concept of a large RCS aircraft disappearing on radar from various project manufacturers. Note that they based US military projects on ‘open tender.’ The US government buys the company whose weapons will be the best and the best. Companies such as Northrop, Lockheed, McDonnell-Douglas responded to DARPA’s call. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

Among them, Lockheed was at the forefront of building the world’s fastest aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird. Although these two planes are stealthy, they are not enough to meet the needs of DARPA. Lockheed later built the F-116 Nighthawk reconnaissance aircraft. It is the world’s first practical stealth aircraft. However, it was created for intelligence missions.

However, they did not entirely satisfy the Ministry of Defense with Knighthawk’s small attack capability. Following this, the Northrop Company tested a highly classified aircraft in Area 51 in 1989. This was the flying concept of the B-2 stealth bomber. Later, in 1986, they made a prototype, and in 1989, B-2 flew for the first time. Since then, the project has cost 23 billion because of several design changes and various updates. But the level of cost is just the beginning.

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When you see the cost level of B-2, your eyes will go up to your forehead. As of 1998, the cost of building each aircraft was 638 million. This is the actual price of the plane. However, the US Air Force bought each plane, including spare parts and equipment, for 929 million. Each time returning from a mission, it takes about 119 hours to get the B-2 ready for flight again. The reason for taking so much time is to do regular maintenance and stealth coating, mentioned in the previous article on stealth aircraft. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

The U.S. Air Force wanted to build 132 ATB aircraft. But in the meantime, the Soviet Union, America’s principal enemy, has collapsed. The program cost of the plane was increasing excessively. Because of this, the number comes down to only twenty. I later converted the prototype into an operational aircraft at the cost of another 500 million. The United States brings 21 aircraft services. One of them crashed in 2008 because of a bug in the weather software.

World's most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit
B-2 strategic bomber panic for the enemy; 
Image source:

The average cost per flight is 1.35 lakh. It has to be kept in a fully air-conditioned hangar room at the expense of about 5 million. Outside of that, maintenance alone requires 3.4 million a year for each aircraft. For all these reasons, the cost of research and development, including the cost of upgrades, has so far cost 2.2 billion behind each B-2! For this reason, B-2 was named as the most expensive aircraft in the world by combining military and civilian. So let’s find out the capabilities of B-2.

The B-2 Spirit is a long-range strategic bomber. It penetrated deep into enemy territory and carried out bombings to inflict maximum damage. The plane needs two pilots to fly. It has some unique features as it has to fly in the sky for a long time. For example, pilots have toilets to respond to nature’s call. There is also a mini kitchen for heating food. Having an autopilot system allows one person to sit in the cockpit and sleep in the back corridor if needed! However, both have to stay in the cockpit while taking oil in the middle of the sky.

Because of the stealth facility of the aircraft, the enemy can penetrate deep into the area by evading the radar and launch an attack. It can fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet (15 km), making radar more challenging to detect. The B-2 can operate at a maximum speed of 1,010 km / h over a distance of 11,000 km (8,900 miles) with 75,750 liters of fuel in its two internal fuel tanks. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

However, once the fuel is taken from the tanker aircraft in the middle of the sky, the range will increase to 19 thousand kilometers. As a result, it is possible to go to any part of the world with fuel more than once and return to the United States. That’s why the B-2 Spirit is undoubtedly the best bomber in the world. No other country has an equivalent aircraft. But recently, China has made a copy version. The Soviet Union has repeatedly failed to steal information about the plane.


It can carry 18-23 tons of different bombs. The B-2 Spirit has two internal weapon bays. To keep stealth capability, the aircraft hides its weapons inside the abdomen instead of the wings. It can carry 60 bombs, the Mk-82 and GBU-38, weighing 500 pounds. Or CBU class bombs weighing up to 36 650 pounds in different configurations. If you want a more powerful bomb, you can carry 16 2,000-pound Mk-84 or GBU-31 bombs. All these are the principal weapons of B-2.

The laser-guided system improved the unguided bombs, which was perfect but did not work in many weather days and nights. The US Navy and Air Force later developed a Direct 25,000 GPS guidance kit called the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). It can turn the above 500-2,000 pounds of unguided bombs into perfect smart bombs like missiles. As seen in the training, if the JDAM bombs miss the target, its GPS coordinator is only about 6 meters away! Because of this, you notice that most US airstrikes are perfect in the various ongoing wars.

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But sometimes, enemy-protected bunkers are so deep that a 2,000-pound bomb can’t destroy them. That’s why the B-2 Spirit Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MoP) carries two special GBU-57 bombs weighing 30,000 pounds! The Bunker Blaster class bomb uses 5,300 pounds of explosives that can destroy a concrete bunker 200 feet below the ground!

World's most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit
The B-2 bomber hid his weapon inside his stomach. 
At the very last moment, the doors of Weapon Bay are opened; 
image source:

Now let’s talk about missiles. The B-2 bomber can carry 36 AGM-154 sendoff missiles with a range of 22-130 km. There is an air-to-surface cruise missile called AGM-158 with a range of 360-925 km! Such missiles can carry 16. As a result, B-2 can hit the enemy from a great distance.

These are the calculations of the conventional warhead. As a nuclear weapon, the aircraft can carry 16 B-61 or B-83 atomic bombs. Each B-61 bomb has a destructive capacity of 0.3 to 400 kilotons, and the B-63 has a deadly power of 1.2 megatons! This means that only a B-2 spirit bomber can destroy a city. But hearing its weakness will make you smile. It cannot maintain a stealth mood during storms.

Lightning is also likely to damage the aircraft’s sensitive technology (which has little effect on ordinary aviation). Therefore, B-2 pilots are always 64 km away from windy and lightning areas. There are instructions to stay away. They continue to fly under satellite-connected weather updates. The cockpit of B-2 is very confidential and full of sensitive technology. The United States released the video for the first time in 2019. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

 B-2 Spirit
The crew is loading 2,000-pound bombs, and the B-2 is dropping 500-pound bombs; 
Image Source: We Are The Mighty

In 1999, the B-2 stealth bomber was first used on the battlefield. During the Kosovo war, the US-led NATO Coalition Forces used their trump card B-2 to destroy the country’s powerful air defense system against Serbia. The government had state-of-the-art S-300, S-200, S-125, and several other anti-aircraft missiles and advanced radar systems made by the Soviet Union to respond to any ordinary aircraft attack.

But B-2 is no longer an ordinary bomber. Six B-2 bombers flew about 5,000 miles from the United States, hitting important targets in Serbia without interruption, and returned home to the United States, as mentioned earlier. The planes had to stay in the sky for about 30 hours to complete this mission! In this war, NATO dropped several thousand tons of bombs on Serbia.

The B-2 bombers dropped 11% of these bombs. Flying in the sky only 50 times a week, B-2 bombers alone destroy 33% of Serbia’s high-value bombing targets (military bases, missile defense sites, air bases, underground bunkers). Far from being shot down by missiles, all of Serbia’s radar systems failed to detect stealth. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

However, on May 8, 1999, the United States mistakenly dropped five JDAM bombs from B-2 at the Chinese embassy in Serbia! Attacking another country’s embassy is tantamount to declaring war. They killed eleven Chinese diplomats and staff. The Russian embassy complex was next to the Chinese embassy, ​​where some Serbian generals held secret meetings. Going to attack them is such a big mistake. Later, however, the United States apologized to China. Normalizes the relationship with adequate compensation to the families of the victims.

The B-2 bomber has been used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In 2003, B-2 dropped 840 tons of bombs in Iraq’s unjust war. In 2011, Operation Odyssey Down dropped forty JDAMs at a Libyan airport and mixed B-2 with soil. The assassination of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was preceded by plans to drop 32 JDAMs or an MoP bunker blaster bomb. But they canceled it for fear of killing innocent Pakistani civilians.

In 2016, two B-2 bombers flew from the United States to Libya on a 34-hour flight and returned to attack a training camp for IS militants. This operation, at great expense, gave rise to widespread criticism and humor through social media. Because 108 500-pound JDAMs were thrown over the militants’ tents, earthen bunkers. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

After reading about 34 hours of continuous flight, the reader may wonder how long a plane can fly in the sky continuously? How long can the engine be running constantly? Then let me tell you another fantastic piece of information. The United States has repeatedly used B-2 bombers to destroy Taliban-controlled air defense systems during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The principal base of the aircraft is Whiteman Airbase in the state of Missouri. It was flown directly from here and attack Afghanistan. For this, they will do refueling several times in the middle of the sky. And these oil tanker planes will come from various US airbases scattered in the Pacific region. But analysis of flight paths showed the aircraft had to use Russian airspace for some time.

It is unacceptable that the rival country’s best bombers will use your country’s airspace for military operations. Usually, the US Air Force could not fly over Russia. They arranged forced new flight plans. According to him, the B-2 spirit crossed the Pacific Ocean, entered the Indian Ocean, entered Afghanistan using Pakistani airspace, and launched a massive attack on various radar and missile bases controlled by the Taliban government. The longest flight in the history of military aviation was 44.3 hours!

These planes have landed nowhere for a long time. However, five times in the middle of the sky, the tanker has collected fuel from the aircraft. The planes carried 45,000 liters of fuel every six hours. More on the way back from the attack, the US military base landed on Diego Garcia Island in the Indian Ocean, but there was no place to keep the aircraft because of the 18 B-1 and B-52 bombers already there.

As a result, the two pilots went down without stopping the engine. They refuel again. They changed the toilet tank of the aircraft. With food and other supplies, the two new pilots boarded the cockpit and flew back to the United States. The engine of the plane was running for 60 hours continuously! Didn’t stop for once or had any problems. (World’s most expensive military aircraft B-2 Spirit)

This is where the superiority of B-2 is proved. This is a wonder of modern aviation history. Among the civil airlines, Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350-900ULR has a record of 16.3 hours of continuous flight. However, no other military aircraft has a record of flying in the sky for such a long time as B-2. The United States will retire these aircraft in 2032. The B-21 Raider made by Northrop, which has more radar evasion capabilities than the B-2, replaced it.

1) B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber
2) 10 Cool Facts about the B-2
3) why B-2 stealth bomber still one of the world's most feared warplanes
4) Incredible Facts About the B-2 Spirit
5) US Air Force combat fleet's true operational costs revealed
6) Book :  B-2-Spirit-of-Innovation
7)  HOW IT WORKS : B-2 Stealth Bomber

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