Historical Snapshot

The B-2 stealth bomber, with its unique flying wing configuration and low-observable, radar-evading, or “stealth,” technology is a versatile multi-role bomber, capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional munitions. The sleek structure is reminiscent of the B-35, developed by Northrop during the 1940s, and uses advanced composites, such as resin-impregnated graphite fiber, rather than metal.

As part of an industry team led by Northrop, Boeing built the outboard portion of the B-2 stealth bomber wing, the aft center fuselage section, landing gears, fuel system and weapons delivery system. At its peak in 1991, the B-2 was the largest military program at Boeing, employing about 10,000 people. The same year, the National Aeronautic Association of the U.S.A. awarded the B-2 design team the Collier Trophy for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, as demonstrated in actual use.

The first B-2 rolled out of the bomber's final assembly facility in Palmdale, Calif., in November 1988 and it flew for the first time on July 17, 1989. The first B-2 entered the Air Force's operational fleet at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., on Dec. 17, 1993. On Oct. 29, 1994, the Air Force's fourth operational B-2 was named "Spirit of Washington" in Seattle, Wash., to honor the people of the state who helped make the B-2 a reality.

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Technical Specifications

First flight July 17, 1989
Classification Bomber
Span 172 feet
Length 69 feet
Gross weight 336,500 pounds
Cruising speed High subsonic
Range 6,000 miles plus
Ceiling 50,000 feet
Power Four 19,000-pound-thrust F118-GE engines
Accommodation 2 crew
Armament More than 40,000-pound nuclear or conventional weapon payload