In June, four B-2 Spirits arrived at RAAF Base Amberley as the US Air Force sent out a message to both allies and enemies in our region. Australian Aviation’s Craig Murray was on the ground to take these incredible photos.
The B-2 Spirit is somewhat an oxymoron. Designed for stealth, subterfuge, and covert missions, it might be one of the most recognisable aircraft on the planet. The B-2’s unique jagged angles, long flying-wing design, radar-absorbent black paint, bulbous cockpit, and shrouded engines cast an imposing silhouette. The aircraft looks like something plucked straight from a science fiction movie, and its intended purpose was no less exciting. The B-2 was designed to venture deep into Soviet Union territory carrying nuclear payloads, its unique stealth capabilities allowing it to remain undetected and fly where other bombers could not.
The aircraft was developed by American aerospace manufacturer Northrop Grumman at the height of the Cold War, with the B-2 taking its first flight in 1989 and entering service in the US Air Force in 1993. The B-2’s ‘flying-wing’ design was first shown in 1949 after its design by Jack Northrop when it was then known as the YB-49. The early design was not adopted by the US Air Force and it wouldn’t be until 30 years later the design was adopted as part of the ‘Advanced Technology Bomber’ project. The project began in 1979 and was intended to create a modern bomber aircraft that could replace the workhorse B-52, which had served as the US Air Force’s primary bomber since 1955.
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