Happy Thursday, FighterSweep Fans! On this day in 1993, Northrop-Grumman delivered the very first “Stealth Bomber,” the Spirit of Missouri, to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Any B-2A Spirit lovers out there?
The original ATB or “Advanced Technology Bomber” program came to life when Jimmy Carter was President. The goal was to build and mass-produce an aircraft able to slip through air defense systems undetected and strike high-value or strategic targets. Designed and manufactured by Northrop-Grumman, the ATB project developed through the Reagan Era, ultimately revealed to the public in 1988.
The B-2 is an expensive beast, with total costs running about $930 million dollars per copy. The original plan was for a total of 132 examples, which would have been amazing, but with the drawn-down of defense spending during the Clinton Administration, that number was cut to a total of 21.
All of the aircraft are still flying, with the exception of the Spirit of Kansas, which crashed shortly after takeoff at Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam in February of 2008. Thankfully, both pilots ejected safely, but the aircraft was a total loss. The remaining aircraft are expected to be in service with the United States Air Force until 2058. The B-2 is the pride and joy of the Air Force Global Strike Command, manned by the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing (Air National Guard), both at Whiteman.