Watch A B-2 Bomber Refuel And Return To Stealth Mode [Video]

Secret compartments for vital functions

B-2 Spirit In Flight
B-2 Spirit In Flight
OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- A B-2 Spirit soars through the sky after a refueling mission here May 2. The B-2 is assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The bomber is currently deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to assist in maintaining a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. AIr Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Stealth aircraft are defined by their smooth edges and deliberate angles. While this provides a sleek aesthetic, it's not very conducive to re-fueling during flight. Mid-air refueling requires some form of fuel intake valve on the plane for receiving propellant. That can be counterintuitive for stealth aircraft, as a fuel intake valve sticks out on a stealth bomber like a thermal exhaust port on a Death Star.

Well, a video from The Aviationist shows just how it works: The fuel valve flips upside down when finished, leaving only a smooth surface in place.

Why go to such lengths with the bomber? With one mid-air refueling, the B-2 Spirit can fly 11,500 miles. That's just slightly less than half the circumference of the Earth. So with refueling B-2 bombers can literally fly almost halfway around the world. Until the Air Force's Long Range Strike Bomber is built, flying extreme distances with deadly payloads is a job for B-2s, and since there are only 20 of them, they need every extra bit of stealthiness they can muster to increase their odds of survival.

Watch the video below: