Photo USAF commons.wikimedia.org The Northrop (later Northrop Grumman) B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, a flying wing design with a crew of two, is an American heavy penetration strategic bomber. It features low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defences.
The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class (Mk 82) JDAM Global Positioning System-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (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.
The B-2 was first publicly displayed on 22 November 1988 at United States Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, where it was assembled. This viewing was heavily restricted and guests were not allowed to see the rear of the B-2.
The B-2's combat debut was in 1999, during the Kosovo War. It was responsible for destroying 33% of selected Serbian bombing targets in the first eight weeks of U.S. involvement in the War. During this war, six B-2s flew non-stop to Kosovo from their home base in Missouri and back, totalling 30 hours. Although the bombers accounted for 50 sorties out of a total of 34,000 NATO sorties, they dropped 11 percent of all bombs.