Nuclear bomber B-2 Spirit celebrated the 34th anniversary of the first official flight

Northrop Grumman recalled an important milestone in the history of American strategic aviation. Nuclear

The B-2 Spirit bomber celebrated the 34th anniversary of its first takeoff.

What is known

It is officially believed that the B-2 Spirit for the first timetook to the skies on July 17, 1989. Below you can see a photo taken 14 years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the first flight. This is one of the most iconic military aircraft in modern history. Northrop Grumman says that over more than three decades, the weapons and avionics of the B-2 have evolved to provide air supremacy.

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Spirit has an iconic aerodynamic design,which is called the "flying wing" (flying wing). It is one of only two strategic bombers in service with the US Air Force that can carry nuclear weapons. The second is the B-52H Stratofortress, which entered service some seven decades ago and is poised to celebrate its 100th birthday in the air. To do this, it will undergo modernization and will be called the B-52J.

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The development of the B-2 Spirit took place as part ofAdvanced Technology Bomber (ATB) programs. The project has its roots in the presidency of Jimmy Carter (Jimmy Carter). Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US abandoned the production of a planned 136 bombers, which significantly reduced the cost of the program. As a result, 21 aircraft were in service with the US Air Force, but one crashed. Now two active are 18 bombers, and two are under repair.

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The first Spirit was officially presented on 22November 1988 at the Northrop Grumman plant in Palmdale, California. The cost of the B-2 Spirit was approximately $737 million at the time of production. In today's prices, a nuclear bomber is worth over $2.1 billion, making it the most expensive aircraft in the world.

B-2 Spirit is the onlylong-range stealth bomber in service with the US Air Force. But Northrop Grumman is already preparing a replacement for him. In December 2022, the company announced the B-21 Raider (pictured below). It has a number of modern technologies that allow it to be considered a sixth generation aircraft. At least that's what US officials say. The characteristics of the aircraft are kept in strict confidence.

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The Pentagon wants to buy at least 100 aircraftB-21 Raider. Northrop Grumman hopes to sign the first contract before the end of this year. Now the company has several bombers that are at different stages of production. The cost of the first batch of aircraft will be $550 million per unit.