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Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit

Role: strategic heavy bomber
Builder: Northrop Grumman
Variants: B-2A
Operators: USAF

The B-2A Spirit is a stealth strategic bomber for the US Air Force. The B-2 design is a flying wing with straight leading-edges and a sawtooth trailing edge. Its centrebody is smoothly contoured into the upper wing surface. The centrebody houses the two-man crew compartment and the two weapons bays, one on each side of the centreline. The cockpit compartment is accessed through a ventral hatch and has large cockpit windows to improve the pilots angular field of view, yet the nose-down view remains very limited. The engines lay outboard the weapon bays in the upper wing surface. The exhausts are positioned forward of the wing trailing edge to reduce heat signature.

The aerodynamic charactertistics are unique. Because of the big wing area and wing span, the lift needed per square foot of wing is not as high compared to other designs of the same weight. Therefor the B-2 does not need complex flaps. It operated over a smaller angle of attack. The B-2 is also very fuel efficient. Also because of the large span and wing area it can fly at very high altitudes.

picture courtesy of USAF

picture courtesy of USAF

picture courtesy of USAF

Copyright 2002-2003 Niels Hillebrand unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.