It’s hard to deny just how stunning the B-2 Spirit looks. A gorgeous, slick, all-black stealth bomber, its rudderless body and technological edge combine the coolness and menace of Batman and Darth Vader into one deadly package for the American military. Last Friday, Northrop Grumman release some stunning footage of the plane in flight.
Design for the B-2 began in 1981, when America was still deep in the Cold War. Production began in 1987 and continued through to 1997. Then a few minor geopolitical events, like the complete collapse of the Soviet Union, meant that the need for an unparalleled long-range stealthy nuclear bomber was reduced. Costing roughly $1 billion dollars each in 1995, the program was drastically cut and only 21 of the bombers were ultimately made. The B-2 Spirit was a victim of the end of the Cold War, or at least as much of a victim as a non-feeling slab of deadly metal can possibly be.
The B-2 was the last new bomber to enter service with the United States Air Force. Since then, the Air Force has continued to rely on older models, included the B-1 Lancer and the venerable B-52 Stratofortress. That’s about to change. For years, the Air Force has been looking for a (possibly optionally manned) long-range strike bomber, and as early as today the Air Force could announce the winner of its secret bomber contract. Northrop Grumman, makers of the B-2 Spirit, is one of the competitors, and they’ve been hinting for a while that their design will be another smooth flying wing.
This new footage is likely another way to get people excited about the next bomber. If this is what we could do in the past for a billion dollars, imagine the planes we can make now.