Key point: Despite being built in the 1980s, the B-2 has been periodically upgraded to keep America safe from high in the skies.
(Washington, D.C.) Slicing through the sky with bat-like wings, eluding enemy radar with stealth technology, quietly destroying enemy air defenses from 50,000 ft and using computers to merge sensor data with targeting information -- the Air Force’s B-2 bomber … has been in the air attacking targets for “30-Years.”
“You pull up the weapons suite screen, align the right weapon with the target and provide input into the DEP - Digital Entry Panel. Then, you enter text into the computer,” Lt. Col. Nicola Polidar, Commander of Detachment 5 of the 29th Training Systems Squadron, told Warrior in an interview.
As this happens….the air attack begins.
The B-2 took its first flight July 17, 1989 -- so now is the “30-Year Anniversary.”
B-2 pilots have operated the sleek, curved air-defense-defying platform for sensitive, highly-dangerous missions many times in recent decades. After blasting onto the scene in the early 90s, the B-2s combat debut came in the late 90s when the aircraft destroyed Serbian targets over Kosovo. Three decades ago, the Air Force and Northrop Grumman thought to massively advance the paradigm for stealth attack, and create a first-of-its kind leap ahead bomber. It was conceived of as a Cold War weapon, engineered to knock out Soviet advanced air defenses. The intent was to build upon and surpass the F-117 Night Hawk’s stealth technology used in the Gulf War.
The B-2s stealth configuration, buried engine, low heat signature and “radar absorbent” coating, is meant to not only avoid being hit by enemy weapons, but complete missions without enemies ever knowing it is there. Its core mission: launch secret, quiet, undetected attacks over heavily defended enemy territory to create a safer “air corridor” for less stealthy planes to operate within extremely lethal,otherwise uninhabitable airspace.
Weapons selection, navigational data and intelligence analysis are all controlled by a human pilot, operating a digital display, computer screen and fire control system in the sky.