B-2 Spirit: Aircraft profile

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Mission

The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program.

B-2 Spirit side: The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program.B-2 Spirit side: The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program.

The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.

Features

Along with the B-52 and B-1B, the B-2 provides the penetrating flexibility and effectiveness inherent in manned bombers. Its low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets. Its capability to penetrate air defenses and threaten effective retaliation provides a strong, effective deterrent and combat force well into the 21st century.

The revolutionary blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B-2 important advantages over existing bombers. Its low-observability provides it greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. Its unrefueled range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers).

B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27, 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27, 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)

The B-2's low observability is derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and radar signatures. These signatures make it difficult for the sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track and engage the B-2. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B-2's composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its "stealthiness."

The B-2 has a crew of two pilots, a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right, compared to the B-1B's crew of four and the B-52's crew of five.

Background

The first B-2 was publicly displayed on Nov. 22, 1988, when it was rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, Calif. Its first flight was July 17, 1989. The B-2 Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft on the B-2.

Whiteman AFB, Mo., is the only operational base for the B-2. The first aircraft, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered Dec. 17, 1993. Depot maintenance responsibility for the B-2 is performed by Air Force contractor support and is managed at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla.

B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit approaches the boom of a McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey KC-10A Extender during a Capstone orientation flight.B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit approaches the boom of a McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey KC-10A Extender during a Capstone orientation flight.

The combat effectiveness of the B-2 was proved in Operation Allied Force, where it was responsible for destroying 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks, by flying nonstop to Kosovo from its home base in Missouri and back. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the B-2 flew one of its longest missions to date from Whiteman to Afghanistan and back. The B-2 completed its first-ever combat deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying 22 sorties from a forward operating location as well as 27 sorties from Whiteman AFB and releasing more than 1.5 million pounds of munitions. The B-2's proven combat performance led to declaration of full operational capability in December 2003.

The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design and integration, is Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector. Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc., are key members of the aircraft contractor team.

General Characteristics

Primary function: Multi-role heavy bomber
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corp. and Contractor Team: Boeing Military Airplanes Co., Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc.
Power Plant: Four General Electric F118-GE-100 engines
Thrust: 17,300 pounds each engine
Wingspan: 172 feet (52.12 meters)
Length: 69 feet (20.9 meters)
Height: 17 feet (5.1 meters
Weight: 160,000 pounds (72,575 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 336,500 pounds (152,634 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 167,000 pounds (75750 kilograms)
Payload: 40,000 pounds (18,144 kilograms)
Speed: High subsonic
Range: Intercontinental
Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Armament: Conventional or nuclear weapons
Crew: Two pilots
Unit cost: Approximately $1.157 billion (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability: April 1997
Inventory: Active force: 20 (1 test); ANG: 0; Reserve: 0

Source: USAF

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is a multi-role stealth heavy bomber, capable of deploying both conventional and nuclear weapons. It is operated exclusively by the United States Air Force. Its development was a milestone in the modernization program of the U.S. Department of Defense. The B-2's stealth technology is intended to aid the aircraft's penetration role in order to survive extremely dense anti-aircraft defenses otherwise considered impenetrable by combat aircraft.

Development

The B-2 originated from the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) black project. The Northrop/Boeing team's ATB design was selected over the Lockheed/Rockwell design on 20 October 1981. The Northrop design would receive the designation B-2 and name "Spirit". The bomber's design was changed in the mid-1980s when its mission profile was changed from high-altitude to low-altitude, terrain following. The redesign delayed the B-2's first flight by two years and added about $1 billion to the program's cost. An estimated US$23 billion was secretly spent for research and development on the B-2 in the 1980s. At the program's peak, 13,000 people were employed at a dedicated plant in Pico Rivera, Cal. for the plane's engineering and some manufacturing.

B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber approaches a KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., during a training exercise on March 23, 2001.B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber approaches a KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., during a training exercise on March 23, 2001.

The first B-2 was publicly displayed on 22 November 1988, when it was rolled out of its hangar at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, where it was built. Its first public flight was on 17 July 1989. The B-2 Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, is responsible for flight testing the engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft.

The original procurement of 132 aircraft was later reduced to 75 in the late 1980s. In his 1992 State of the Union Address, President George H.W. Bush announced total B-2 production would be limited to 20 aircraft, with a total inventory of 21 by upgrading the first test aircraft to B-2A Block 30 standard. This reduction was largely a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which effectively rendered void the Spirit's primary mission.

The cost of the B-2 program in 1994 dollars was reported at $737 million per plane; however, the total cost of the program with development, spares, and facilities averaged over $2.1 billion per plane as of 1997 according to the B-2 program office.

In 1990, the Department of Defense accused Northrop of using faulty components in the flight control system. More recent issues with the jet have included cracks in the tail, and efforts to reduce the probability that the engines will suck birds into the jet intakes, damaging fan blades.

Northrop made a proposal to the USAF in the 1995 to build 20 additional aircraft with a flyaway cost of $566M. This more accurately reflects the per aircraft cost if the full order had been manufactured. The high development costs included: another stealth prototype (now at the USAF museum), security costs which included inefficiencies of separating design teams, the development of a computer aided design system which requires no paper (it was the first aircraft so designed), a totally computerized manufacturing control system (the first of its kind), and a computerized maintenance system to help crew chiefs.

Design

As with the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1 Lancer, the B-2 provides the versatility inherent in manned bombers. Like other bombers, its assigned targets can be canceled or changed while in flight, the particular weapon assigned to a target can be changed, and the timing of attack, or the route to the target can be changed while in flight. In addition, its low-observable, or "stealth," characteristics give it the ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and attack its most heavily defended targets.

The blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B-2 significant advantages over previous bombers. Its range is approximately 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km) without refueling. Also, its low-observation ability provides the B-2 greater freedom of action at high altitudes, thus increasing its range and giving a better field of view for the aircraft's sensors. It combines GPS Aided Targeting System (GATS) with GPS-aided bombs such as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). This uses its passive electronically scanned array APQ-181 radar to correct GPS errors of targets and gain much better than laser-guided weapon accuracy when "dumb" gravity bombs are equipped with a GPS-aided "smart" guidance tail kit. It can bomb 16 targets in a single pass when equipped with 1,000 or 2,000-pound bombs, or as many as 80 when carrying 500-lb bombs.

The B-2's stealth comes from a combination of reduced acoustic, infrared, visual and radar signatures, making it difficult for defenses to detect, track and engage. Many specific aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B-2 represents a further advancement of technology exploited for the F-117. Pyotr Ufimtsev, whose theoretical work made the F-117 and B-2 possible, was hired by Northrop at one time. Additionally, the B-2's composite materials, special coatings and flying wing design (which cuts down on the number of leading edges) contribute to its stealth abilities. The B-2 uses radar absorbent material and coatings that require climate-controlled hangars for maintenance. The engines are buried within the wing to conceal the induction fans and hide their exhaust.

The B-2 has a crew of two; a pilot in the left seat and mission commander in the right. The B-2 has a provision for a third crew member if required in the future. For comparison, the B-1B has a crew of four and the B-52 has a crew of five. B-2 crews have been used to pioneer sleep cycle research to improve crew performance on long flights. The B-2 is highly automated, and unlike single-seat fighters, one crew member can sleep, use a flush toilet or prepare a hot meal while the other monitors the aircraft.

Operational history

The first operational aircraft, christened Spirit of Missouri, was delivered on December 17, 1993. The B-2 fleet is based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Depot maintenance for the B-2 is accomplished by United States Air Force contractor support and managed at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Originally designed to deliver nuclear weapons, modern usage has shifted towards a flexible role with conventional and nuclear capability.

The prime contractor, responsible for overall system design and integration, is Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon), General Electric Aircraft Engines and Vought Aircraft Industries, are members of the aircraft contractor team. Another contractor, responsible for aircrew training devices (weapon system trainer and mission trainer) is Link Simulation & Training, a division of L-3 Communications formerly Hughes Training Inc. (HTI). Link Division, formerly known as CAE - Link Flight Simulation Corp. Link Simulation & Training is responsible for developing and integrating all aircrew and maintenance training programs.

Combat

The B-2 has seen service in three separate campaigns. Its debut was during the Kosovo War or Operation Allied Force in 1999. It was responsible for destroying 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks, by flying non stop to Kosovo from its home base in Missouri and back. The B-2 first introduced the satellite guided JDAM in combat use. Since then, the aircraft has operated over Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom the B-2 flew one of its longest missions to date from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri to Afghanistan and back. During the Iraq campaign, B-2s were temporarily operated from Diego Garcia. Later missions to Iraq launched from Whiteman AFB. This resulted in missions lasting over 30 hours and one mission of over 50 hours. In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the B-2 flew 22 sorties from Diego Garcia as well as 27 sorties from Whiteman AFB and released more than 1.5 million pounds of munitions. The B-2's proven combat performance led to a declaration of full operational capability in December 2003.

The Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation 2003 Annual Report noted that the B-2's serviceability for FY03 was still inadequate, mainly due to maintenance on the B-2's Low Observable materials. The evaluation also noted that the Defensive Avionics suite also had shortcomings with pop-up threats. Despite these problems the B-2 reached full operational capability in December 2003. The B-2 maintained high mission capable rates for Operation Iraqi Freedom, dropping 583 JDAMs during the campaign.

Recent events

Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer who worked on the B-2's propulsion system, was arrested in October 2005 for selling B-2 related classified information to foreign countries. His trial was initially scheduled for 12 February 2008, but he received a continuance. In 1984 a Northrop employee, Thomas Cavanagh, was arrested for trying to sell secrets apparently smuggled out of the Pico Rivera plant to the Soviet Union and was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

The USAF has funded a project to upgrade the B-2s weapon control systems so new weapons can be used, including weapons intended to hit moving targets.

Operators

Flag of the United States United States

* United States Air Force
o 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (currently has 19 B-2s)
+ 13th Bomb Squadron
+ 393d Bomb Squadron
+ 394th Combat Training Squadron
o 131st Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (associated unit)
+ 110th Bomb Squadron
o 412th Test Wing, Edwards Air Force Base (currently has 1 B-2)
+ 419th Flight Test Squadron
o 53d Wing, Eglin Air Force Base (former)
+ 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base
o 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base (former)
+ 325th Weapons Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base
+ 715th Weapons Squadron (inactivated)

Incidents and accidents

On 23 February 2008, B-2A, 89-0127, Spirit of Kansas, of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, crashed onto the runway shortly after takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The crash of the Spirit of Kansas, which had 5,100 flight hours, was the first ever for the B-2. The crew attempted to save the bomber but, as the port wing began to hook the ground, they ejected and survived. The aircraft was completely destroyed, an estimated loss of US $1.4B. No munitions were on board because it and three other B-2s were returning to Whiteman Air Force Base from a temporary deployment to Guam. At Guam Naval Hospital, one pilot was evaluated and released, while the second remained hospitalized. A B-2 already in the air was called back to Andersen following the crash, where it and the other B-2s were grounded until an initial investigation into the crash was complete. Six B-52s of the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana were deployed to replace the B-2s. Chief of Air Combat Command General John Corley stated that the B-2 "rotated early, rotated excessively, stalled, and then dragged the left wingtip". The pilots then ejected and the aircraft ran off the side of the runway and burned. USAF Crash Investigation video

The commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, followed up on the incident by temporarily suspending flying operations for all 20 remaining B-2s to review procedures. Harencak termed the suspension a "safety pause" and stated that the B-2s would resume flying if called upon for immediate operations. The B-2 returned to flight on 15 April 2008.

The findings of the subsequent investigation stated that the B-2 crashed after "heavy, lashing rains" caused water to intrude into skin-flush air-data sensors, which feed angle of attack and yaw data to the computerized flight-control system. The water distorted preflight readings in three of the plane's 24 sensors, causing the flight-control system to send an erroneous correction to the B-2 on takeoff. The B-2 quickly stalled, became unrecoverable, and subsequently crashed.The sensors in question measure numerous environmentals, including air pressure and density, for data to calculate airspeed, altitude and attitude. Because of the faulty readings, the flight computers determined inaccurate airspeed readings and incorrectly indicated a downward angle for the aircraft, which contributed to an early rotation and an uncommanded 30-degree pitch up and left yaw, resulting in the stall.

B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit bomber is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program.B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit bomber is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program.

B-2 on display

Because of its cost, rarity, and combat value, no production B-2 has been placed on permanent display. However, B-2s have made periodic appearances on ground display at various air shows.

In 2004, one of the test articles (s/n AT-1000) built without engines or instruments for static testing was placed on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. The test article had been used for structural testing, and after passing all planned tests, pressure was applied until the right wing broke off at 161% of specification. The Museum's restoration team spent over a year reassembling the fractured airframe.

From 1989 to 2004, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum located on the grounds of Ellsworth Air Force Base displayed the 10-ton (9.1 tonne) "Honda Stealth", a 60% scale mock-up of a stealth bomber, which had been built by North American Honda in 1988 for a national automobile campaign. Although not an actual replica of a B-2, the mock-up was close enough to create a stir that Honda had cracked national security, as the B-2 project was still officially classified in 1988. Honda donated the model to the Museum in 1989, on the condition that the model be destroyed if it were ever replaced with a different aircraft. In 2005, when the museum received a B-1 Lancer for display (Ellsworth being a B-1 base), the Honda Stealth was cut up.

Specifications (B-2A Block 30)

Data from Global Security

General characteristics

* Crew: 2
* Length: 69 ft (21 m)
* Wingspan: 172 ft (52.4 m)
* Height: 17 ft (5.2 m)
* Wing area: 5,000 ft² (460 m²)
* Empty weight: 158,000 lb (71.7 t)
* Loaded weight: 336,500 lb (152.6 t)
* Max takeoff weight: 376,000 lb (171.0 t)
* Powerplant: 4× General Electric F118-GE-100 turbofans, 17,300 lbf (77 kN) each

Performance

* Maximum speed: 410 knots (760 km/h, 470 mph)
* Range: 5,600 nm (10,400 km, 6,400 mi)
* Service ceiling 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
* Wing loading: 67.3 lb/ft² (329 kg/m²)
* Thrust/weight: 0.205

Armament

* 2 internal bays for 50,000 lb (22,700 kg) of ordnance.
o 80× 500 lb class bombs (Mk-82) mounted on Bomb Rack Assembly (BRA)
o 36× 750 lb CBU class bombs on BRA
o 16× 2000 lb class weapons (Mk-84, JDAM-84, JDAM-102) mounted on Rotary Launcher Assembly (RLA)
o 16× B61 or B83 nuclear weapons on RLA

Later avionics and equipment improvements allow B-2A to carry JSOW and GBU-28s as well. The Spirit is also designated as a delivery aircraft for the AGM-158 JASSM when the missile enters service.

Additional names

* The Spirit of Mississippi was known as the "Black Widow" before her commissioning ceremony.
* The Spirit of Ohio has been known as "Fire and Ice" as a result of 100 hours of hot and cold testing performed upon it at the McKinley Climate Laboratory at Eglin AFB, Florida, during which it experienced temperatures of between 45 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
* The Spirit of New York has been alternately called "Navigator", "Ghost" and "Afternoon Delight!". It is the only B-2 which is located at Edwards AFB.
* The Spirit of Texas is also known as "Pirate Ship".
* The Spirit of America is also known as "Fatal Beauty".

More photos:

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A stealth B-2 Spirit comes in for a landing at Le Bourget Airport during a flight demonstration at the 41st Paris Air Show. The Spirit is attached to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Montana.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A stealth B-2 Spirit comes in for a landing at Le Bourget Airport during a flight demonstration at the 41st Paris Air Show. The Spirit is attached to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Montana.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close up view of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber from 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, MO being refueled by the boom and refueling arm of a KC-10 Extender aircraft. The image was taken from the Boom Operator's position.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close up view of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber from 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, MO being refueled by the boom and refueling arm of a KC-10 Extender aircraft. The image was taken from the Boom Operator's position.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Canada's Aerial Demonstration Team the Snowbirds perform, banking right in full formation, smoke trailing high above a B-2 Spirit Bomber at Nellis AFB during the United States Air Force's 50th Anniversary and Air show.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Canada's Aerial Demonstration Team the Snowbirds perform, banking right in full formation, smoke trailing high above a B-2 Spirit Bomber at Nellis AFB during the United States Air Force's 50th Anniversary and Air show.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Low light level, fish-eye lens view, showing A US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit aircraft approaching a USAF KC-10 Extender aircraft during a nighttime refueling mission.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Low light level, fish-eye lens view, showing A US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit aircraft approaching a USAF KC-10 Extender aircraft during a nighttime refueling mission.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A four ship aerial demonstration team, the USAFs Thunderbirds climb afterburners blazing from the Nellis AFB runway just above a parked B-2 Spirit Bomber, during the United States Air Force's 50th Anniversary and Air show.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A four ship aerial demonstration team, the USAFs Thunderbirds climb afterburners blazing from the Nellis AFB runway just above a parked B-2 Spirit Bomber, during the United States Air Force's 50th Anniversary and Air show.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Air to air view of a T-38 Talon flying chase on a B-2 Spirit bomber during a sunset training sortie near the base. The B-2 and T-38 are assigned to Air Combat Command, 8th Air Force's 509th Bomb Wing.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Air to air view of a T-38 Talon flying chase on a B-2 Spirit bomber during a sunset training sortie near the base. The B-2 and T-38 are assigned to Air Combat Command, 8th Air Force's 509th Bomb Wing.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The B-2 "Spirit of California" flies over head during the "Spirit of Kansas" naming ceremony.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The B-2 "Spirit of California" flies over head during the "Spirit of Kansas" naming ceremony.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: In the late afternoon sunlight a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing stands ready in its hangar. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: In the late afternoon sunlight a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing stands ready in its hangar. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, retracts its landing gear during a take-off for an exercise sortie. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, retracts its landing gear during a take-off for an exercise sortie. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Close up of the exterior cockpit area of a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Close up of the exterior cockpit area of a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Close-up of the cockpit of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing. Crew members are silhouetted as they prepare for the next mission. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Close-up of the cockpit of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing. Crew members are silhouetted as they prepare for the next mission. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: An air-to-air long shot of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft during a training exercise. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: An air-to-air long shot of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft during a training exercise. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: An air-to-air medium shot of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft during a training exercise. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: An air-to-air medium shot of a US Air Force B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft during a training exercise. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft nicknamed "The Spirit of Hawaii" taxies around the flight line at Whiteman AFB, Missouri during the Air Force Bases's first "Beast Walk" Exercise. "Beast Walk" is an exercise nuclear alert in which the bombers respond using quick engine start and taxi procedures.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft nicknamed "The Spirit of Hawaii" taxies around the flight line at Whiteman AFB, Missouri during the Air Force Bases's first "Beast Walk" Exercise. "Beast Walk" is an exercise nuclear alert in which the bombers respond using quick engine start and taxi procedures.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing makes an evening landing after completing an exercise sortie. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing makes an evening landing after completing an exercise sortie. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close-up of the exterior of the cockpit area of a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing, inside the hangar. Inside the cockpit pilots can be seen climbing into their seats prior to engine start. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close-up of the exterior of the cockpit area of a B-2 Spirit, stealth bomber, from the 509th Bomb Wing, inside the hangar. Inside the cockpit pilots can be seen climbing into their seats prior to engine start. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A1C Ryan Hill, 509th Maintenance Squadron prepares the surface of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, "Spirit of Oklahoma" from the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing aircraft for painting. Along with personal protective equipment, he is in a sealed paint vapor enclosure attached to the aircraft surface. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A1C Ryan Hill, 509th Maintenance Squadron prepares the surface of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, "Spirit of Oklahoma" from the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing aircraft for painting. Along with personal protective equipment, he is in a sealed paint vapor enclosure attached to the aircraft surface. Global Guardian is designed to exercise the ability of USSTRATCOM and its component forces to effectively deter a military attack against the United States and employ forces as directed by the National Command Authority.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft approaches the boom and refueling probe of a US Air Force KC-10A Extender Aircraft from McGuire AFB, New Jersey during a training exercise. Only the rear section of the KC-10 aircraft is visible in the picture.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft approaches the boom and refueling probe of a US Air Force KC-10A Extender Aircraft from McGuire AFB, New Jersey during a training exercise. Only the rear section of the KC-10 aircraft is visible in the picture.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The US Air Force B-2 Spirit performs for the crowd at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, during Air Fete 2000. The B-2's appearance at Air Fete 2000 is its only scheduled European Air Show for the year. Air Fete is Europe's largest military sponsored air show.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The US Air Force B-2 Spirit performs for the crowd at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, during Air Fete 2000. The B-2's appearance at Air Fete 2000 is its only scheduled European Air Show for the year. Air Fete is Europe's largest military sponsored air show.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft on approach to aerial refueling from a US Air Force KC-10A Extender Aircraft from McGuire AFB, New Jersey during a training exercise.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit Bomber aircraft on approach to aerial refueling from a US Air Force KC-10A Extender Aircraft from McGuire AFB, New Jersey during a training exercise.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit, Spirit of Kitty Hawk, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri (MO), arrives at Andersen AFB, Guam, for Operation CORONET DRAGON 49. The forward deployment exercise features the Spirit and provides training for the pilots and crewmembers of Whiteman AFB.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: The US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit, Spirit of Kitty Hawk, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri (MO), arrives at Andersen AFB, Guam, for Operation CORONET DRAGON 49. The forward deployment exercise features the Spirit and provides training for the pilots and crewmembers of Whiteman AFB.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing (BW), taxis out on a mission and is the first-ever deployed to this forward operating location in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing (BW), taxis out on a mission and is the first-ever deployed to this forward operating location in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close-up of the KC-135R Stratotanker from the 128th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) (Wisconsin Air National Guard) boom as it engages and refuels a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber on a training mission.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A close-up of the KC-135R Stratotanker from the 128th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) (Wisconsin Air National Guard) boom as it engages and refuels a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber on a training mission.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, takes off from Eielson AFB, Alaska, on a mission in support of exercise Northern Edge 2002.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, takes off from Eielson AFB, Alaska, on a mission in support of exercise Northern Edge 2002.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey refuels a B-2 Spirit during the filming of MTV's ÔRoad Rules 10.Õ The refueling was part of the cast's final mission of the Road Rules season. The "Roadies" carried a crest to McGuire AFB at the crack of dawn for a 5-hour mission. During the mission the cast observed the refueling of a B-2 Spirit bomber, only to find that the captain of the bomber had instructions for them, that they must deliver the crest to General Williams on return to the base.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey refuels a B-2 Spirit during the filming of MTV's ÔRoad Rules 10.Õ The refueling was part of the cast's final mission of the Road Rules season. The "Roadies" carried a crest to McGuire AFB at the crack of dawn for a 5-hour mission. During the mission the cast observed the refueling of a B-2 Spirit bomber, only to find that the captain of the bomber had instructions for them, that they must deliver the crest to General Williams on return to the base.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A US Air Force (USAF) Crew Chief guards his B-2 Spirit stealth bomber under the light of a full-moon while on the Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam (GU), tarmac.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A US Air Force (USAF) Crew Chief guards his B-2 Spirit stealth bomber under the light of a full-moon while on the Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam (GU), tarmac.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit attached to the 509th Bomb Wing, out of Whiteman Air Force Base, MO moves into refueling position behind a KC-135 out of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Milwaukee, WI for a low visibility training exercise enhanced by night vision technology on September 9, 2008. The B-2 air refueling was a joint low visibility training exercise for both the 128th ARW and the 509th BW. (U.S. Air Force photo taken by Staff Sergeant Jeremy M. Wilson)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit attached to the 509th Bomb Wing, out of Whiteman Air Force Base, MO moves into refueling position behind a KC-135 out of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Milwaukee, WI for a low visibility training exercise enhanced by night vision technology on September 9, 2008. The B-2 air refueling was a joint low visibility training exercise for both the 128th ARW and the 509th BW. (U.S. Air Force photo taken by Staff Sergeant Jeremy M. Wilson)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, assigned with the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas July 15, 2008. The refueling mission was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, assigned with the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas July 15, 2008. The refueling mission was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, out of Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas, July 15, 2008. The refueling operation was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, out of Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas, July 15, 2008. The refueling operation was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, assigned with the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas July 15, 2008. The refueling mission was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft, assigned with the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, assigned with the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., during a refueling operation over the state of Kansas July 15, 2008. The refueling mission was part of a civic outreach demonstration for local leaders to help educate them on Air Force missions outside of Scott Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth/Released)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit aircraft approaches the boom of a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft from the 319th Air Refueling Wing out of Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., during a refueling mission over the Midwest Feb. 4, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chad M. Kellum)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A B-2 Spirit aircraft approaches the boom of a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft from the 319th Air Refueling Wing out of Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., during a refueling mission over the Midwest Feb. 4, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chad M. Kellum)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: U.S. Air Force Senior Maser Sgt. Keith Wagner, a KC-135 aircraft boom operator from the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. delivers fuel over the Philippine Sea Jan. 25, 2008, during a routine refueling mission for the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman AFB, Mo. The KC-135's ability to refuel planes mid-air helps accomplish the Air Force's primary missions of global reach and global power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Vanessa Valentine)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: U.S. Air Force Senior Maser Sgt. Keith Wagner, a KC-135 aircraft boom operator from the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. delivers fuel over the Philippine Sea Jan. 25, 2008, during a routine refueling mission for the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman AFB, Mo. The KC-135's ability to refuel planes mid-air helps accomplish the Air Force's primary missions of global reach and global power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Vanessa Valentine)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies during career day at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., on May 5, 2007. DoD photo by Kenn Brown, U.S. Air Force.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies during career day at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., on May 5, 2007. DoD photo by Kenn Brown, U.S. Air Force.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit "Stealth" bomber, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Pacific Ocean after a recent aerial refueling mission, May 2, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit "Stealth" bomber, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies over the Pacific Ocean after a recent aerial refueling mission, May 2, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit "Stealth" bomber, 509th Bomber Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., approaches the aerial refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker, somewhere over Guam, Apr. 4, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit "Stealth" bomber, 509th Bomber Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., approaches the aerial refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker, somewhere over Guam, Apr. 4, 2005. The Bombers are deployed to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a rotation that has provided the U.S. Pacific Command a continous bomber presence in the Asian Pacific region since February 2004, enhancing regional security and the U.S. commitment to the Western Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Over the Pacific Ocean a US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit bomber, 509th Bomber Wing (BW), Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri (MO), prepares to refuels from an Illinois Air National Guard (ILANG) KC-135 Stratotanker, 126th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), Scott AFB, during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam (GU). The bomber deployed as part of a rotation that has provided US Pacific Command (USPACOM) officials a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region, enhancing regional security and the US commitment to the Western Pacific.B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber: Over the Pacific Ocean a US Air Force (USAF) B-2 Spirit bomber, 509th Bomber Wing (BW), Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri (MO), prepares to refuels from an Illinois Air National Guard (ILANG) KC-135 Stratotanker, 126th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), Scott AFB, during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam (GU). The bomber deployed as part of a rotation that has provided US Pacific Command (USPACOM) officials a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region, enhancing regional security and the US commitment to the Western Pacific.

B-2 Spirit: The B-2 named "Spirit of Missouri" returns to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., after a bombing mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Pilots are flying 30-plus hour sorties to accomplish missions launched from here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Francis Dupuis)B-2 Spirit: The B-2 named "Spirit of Missouri" returns to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., after a bombing mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Pilots are flying 30-plus hour sorties to accomplish missions launched from here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Francis Dupuis)

B-2 Spirit: OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN --A B-2 Spirit bomber glides into place for aerial refueling over the Atlantic during an April mission in support of Operation Allied Force. The aircraft belongs to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and is working with the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard, supporting missions between McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the Balkans. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Olson)B-2 Spirit: OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN --A B-2 Spirit bomber glides into place for aerial refueling over the Atlantic during an April mission in support of Operation Allied Force. The aircraft belongs to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and is working with the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard, supporting missions between McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the Balkans. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Olson)

B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber approaches a KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., during a training exercise on March 23, 2001. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Gary Ell)B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber approaches a KC-10A Extender from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., during a training exercise on March 23, 2001. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Gary Ell)

B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission in the European theater supporting NATO Operation Allied Force. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Bergmann)B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit bomber prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission in the European theater supporting NATO Operation Allied Force. The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the bomber represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Bergmann)

B-2 Spirit: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- A B-2 Spirit bomber comes in for a landing here March 1. The B-2 is assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Roy A. Santana)B-2 Spirit: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- A B-2 Spirit bomber comes in for a landing here March 1. The B-2 is assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Roy A. Santana)

B-2 Spirit: The United States Air Force's newest airplane, The B-2 Spirit bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo. is refueled by a KC-10 Extender . The B-2 is a stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons on target day or night in any weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo)B-2 Spirit: The United States Air Force's newest airplane, The B-2 Spirit bomber, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo. is refueled by a KC-10 Extender . The B-2 is a stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons on target day or night in any weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-2 Spirit: OVER THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES -- A B-2 Spirit crew from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., prepares for refueling by a KC-135R Stratotanker from the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. The air refueling effort was part of a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)B-2 Spirit: OVER THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES -- A B-2 Spirit crew from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., prepares for refueling by a KC-135R Stratotanker from the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. The air refueling effort was part of a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit bomber with the 40th Air Expeditionary Wing prepares to received fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a March 28 mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt Timothy Lancaster)B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit bomber with the 40th Air Expeditionary Wing prepares to received fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a March 28 mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt Timothy Lancaster)

B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. pulls up for a fill-up with a KC-135 Stratotanker of New Jersey's 108th Air Refueling Wing, Air National Guard over Kansas farmland. The KC-135 Stratotanker's principal mission is air refueling. This asset greatly enhances the U. S. Air Force's capability to accomplish its mission of Global Engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Olsen)B-2 Spirit: A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. pulls up for a fill-up with a KC-135 Stratotanker of New Jersey's 108th Air Refueling Wing, Air National Guard over Kansas farmland. The KC-135 Stratotanker's principal mission is air refueling. This asset greatly enhances the U. S. Air Force's capability to accomplish its mission of Global Engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Olsen)

B-2 Spirit: A crew chief watches over a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber while air crews switch shifts at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam Feb. 5. The bomber, based at Whiteman AFB, Mo., was here as part of Air Combat Command’s ongoing global power missions. The missions allow aircrews to train for the long flights from stateside locations to the overseas theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)B-2 Spirit: A crew chief watches over a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber while air crews switch shifts at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam Feb. 5. The bomber, based at Whiteman AFB, Mo., was here as part of Air Combat Command’s ongoing global power missions. The missions allow aircrews to train for the long flights from stateside locations to the overseas theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27, 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27, 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)

B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit approaches the boom of a McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey KC-10A Extender during a Capstone orientation flight. Capstone is a Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training mission providing interservice training for the wartime application of airlift. Through Capstone, senior level officers are able to observe the significance of airlift and its role in all military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Scott H. Spitzer)B-2 Spirit: The B-2 Spirit approaches the boom of a McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey KC-10A Extender during a Capstone orientation flight. Capstone is a Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training mission providing interservice training for the wartime application of airlift. Through Capstone, senior level officers are able to observe the significance of airlift and its role in all military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Scott H. Spitzer)

B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)B-2 Spirit: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- A B-2 Spirit, returning from a mission over Iraq, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Indian Ocean on March 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)

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