Northrop B-2 Spirit

The Northrop B-2 Spirit is a multi-role stealth heavy bomber, capable of deploying both conventional and nuclear weapons. It is operated exclusively by the United States Air Force. Its development was a milestone in the modernization program of the U.S. Department of Defense. B-2 stealth technology is intended to aid the aircraft in its penetration role in order to survive extremely dense anti-aircraft defenses otherwise considered impenetrable by combat aircraft.

Northrop B-2 Spirit
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1989
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1997 2008 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Northrop Corporation 21 View

Role Strategic stealth bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
Northrop Grumman
First flight 17 July 1989
Introduction April 1997
Status In service
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1987–2000
Number built 21
Program cost US$44.75 billion (through 2004)
Unit cost $737 million (1997 approx. flyaway cost)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 69 ft (21 m)
  • Wingspan: 172 ft (52.4 m)
  • Height: 17 ft (5.2 m)
  • Wing area: 5,000 ft (460 m)
  • Empty weight: 158,000 lb (71.7 t)
  • Loaded weight: 336,500 lb (152.6 t)
  • Max takeoff weight: 376,000 lb (171.0 t)
  • Powerplant: 4 x General Electric F118-GE-100 turbofans, 17,300 lbf (77 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 410 knots (760 km/h, 470 mph)
  • Range: 5,600 nm (10,400 km, 6,400 mi)
  • Service ceiling 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
  • Wing loading: 67.3 lb/ft (329 kg/m)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.205


  • 2 internal bays for 50,000 lb (22,700 kg) of ordnance.
    • 80 x 500 lb class bombs (Mk-82) mounted on Bomb Rack Assembly (BRA)
    • 36 x 750 lb CBU class bombs on BRA
    • 16 x 2000 lb class weapons (Mk-84, JDAM-84, JDAM-102) mounted on Rotary Launcher Assembly (RLA)
    • 16 x B61 or B83 nuclear weapons on RLA

Later avionics and equipment improvements allow B-2A to carry JSOW and GBU-28s as well. The Spirit is also designated as a delivery aircraft for the AGM-158 JASSM when the missile enters service.

End notes