TechB-2 Spirit bomber makes emergency landing at RAF Fairford due to refueling issues

B‑2 Spirit bomber makes emergency landing at RAF Fairford due to refueling issues

B-2 Spirit Bomber
B-2 Spirit Bomber
Images source: © Getty Images | Win McNamee

12:54 PM EST, December 16, 2023

Following exercises in the North Sea during December, a single bomber was accepted at the Fairford airport from the two scheduled (with the call signs DEATH 31 and DEATH 32) to carry out missions. This was attributed to a shortage in the required quantity of air tankers necessary to service both aircraft, as stated in the Gloucestershirelive portal.

The virtually Invisible Bomber

The inception of these minimally detectable American strategic bombers dates back to the advent of the 1980s. The development program was initiated in 1981, and six years later, 132 B-2 Spirit bombers were ordered by the US Air Force. The inaugural flight of the aircraft, created with a flying wing configuration, was in 1989; the first B-2 was officially deployed on December 17, 1993.

A standout feature of the B-2 Spirit is its stealth construction, which uses technology that aids challenging detectability. This "invisibility" was accomplished through the use of flying wing design, materials that can absorb radar waves, and by cloaking the engines within the fuselage.

The B-2 Spirit bomber can attain a takeoff weight exceeding 167,551 lbs, with over 48,501 lbs attributed to its armament and the remainder to its own mass. The bomber's top speed surpasses 621 mph, whereas it cruises at approx. 593 mph. It can operate at altitudes exceeding 49,212 ft, and its range is quite extensive at nearly 6,213 miles.

This aircraft hosts two bomb bays that can house conventional or nuclear weapons. Particularly, for nuclear ordinance, the tactical/strategic thermonuclear aerial bombs B61, B83, and AGM-129 ACM and AGM-131 SRAM are available. General-purpose bombs can also be stored in these bays:

  • Mk 82;
  • Mk 84;
  • CBU-87;
  • CBU-89;
  • CBU-97.

The B-2 Spirit bomber requires two pilots to operate it. Essential components of the aircraft also include fly-by-wire systems, which eliminate the need for mechanical connections to control surfaces, and a sophisticated computer system to manage the flight.

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