B-2 Spirit - Stealth Bomber

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Product Type:
Intercontinental Stealth Bomber

Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:
Sustainment. To be replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.

Prime Contractor:
Northrop Grumman Corporation

The B-2A Spirit

About the B-2 Spirit:

By Forecast International /// The following is a snapshot of the B–2A Spirit program. For complete data and a forecast outlook, please view our Military Aircraft Forecast


The Northrop Grumman B–2A Spirit is an intercontinental bomber that employs low-observable technology, so-called "stealth", to achieve its mission. Since 1989, B-2 aircraft have flown more than 14,000 sorties and accumulated more than 75,000 flight operating hours. In 2019, the Air Force and Northrop Grumman officially marked the 30th birthday of the B-2. The B–2 Spirit is powered by four General Electric F118-GE-100 turbofan engines, each providing 17,300 pounds of thrust. The B-2 has a crew of just two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and a mission commander in the right, compared to the B-1B Lancer's crew of four and the B-52H Stratofortress' crew of five.

A dramatic leap forward in technology, the B–2 is an all-wing aircraft with no fuselage and no vertical tail. The design eliminates much of the surface area that would cause drag on a conventional aircraft. At the same time, it eliminates many of the surfaces and edges from which radar energy would normally reflect. Its stealthy features are also derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual, and radar signatures. The dramatically reduced sum of these signatures makes it difficult for even the most sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track, and engage the B–2. From its twin weapon bays, the B–2 Spirit is capable of delivering massive firepower in a short time, anywhere in the world and through high-threat defenses using both conventional and nuclear munitions.

The B-2 is equipped with the Raytheon AN/APQ-181 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar (upgraded version of the original radar), a low probability of intercept, all-weather radar system, which enables the aircraft to penetrate even the most sophisticated air defenses.

Boeing has supplied the primary structural components of the aircraft, including the outboard wing and aft-center sections, the fuel systems, weapons delivery system, and the landing gear. Vought Aircraft, now part of Triumph Group, designed and produced the intermediate wing section.

The U.S. Air Force B-2 inventory consists of a total of 20 aircraft, 19 of which are based at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) in Missouri, the home of the 509th Bomb Wing. One aircraft is assigned to flight-testing at Edwards AFB in California to validate software and weapon systems upgrades. One aircraft, the Spirit of Kansas, was lost in 2008 in a crash that occurred during take-off from Andersen AFB in Guam.

As part of an Air Force contract for maintenance support, B-2 aircraft are periodically sent to Northrop Grumman's Palmdale facility in California for depot-level maintenance.

The B-1 and B-2 bomber fleets will be replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider in the 2030-32 timeframe. The Air Force plans to procure at least 100 Raiders. The Air Force is, however, retaining the venerable B-52 due to its versatility, better maintenance record and its cruise-missile-launching capability.


The B-2 Spirit has two internal weapon bays that can carry up to 30,000 pounds of ordnance each. The B-2 carries a wide range of nuclear and conventional weapons including B61 and B83 nuclear bombs, Mk 82 and Mk 84 General Purpose Bombs, AGM-154 JSOW, AGM-158 JASSM, and GBU-31/38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) as well as several other types of ordnance. The massive GBU-57 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) is currently being integrated on the B-2 for use against hardened, deeply buried targets.

Future weapons that will/may be fielded on the B-2, include the AGM-158B JASSM-ER and GBU-53/B StormBreaker (formerly SDB-II).


The primary mission of the B–2 is to enable any theater commander to hold at risk and, if necessary, attack an enemy's warmaking potential, especially time-critical targets that, if not destroyed in the first hours or days of a conflict, would allow unacceptable damage to be inflicted on the friendly side. The B–2 will also retain its potential as a nuclear bomber, reinforcing the deterrence of nuclear conflict.

FY 2021 & FY 2022 - B-2 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Northrop Grumman Corp.,
and Raytheon Technologies.

Military Aircraft Forecast:

Complete and detailed information, including production forecast data, is provided in our Market Intelligence Service: Military Aircraft Forecast.

Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2018, FY 2019, FY 2020, FY 2021 and FY 2022 + 5-year forecast

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