The U.S. Air Drive’s sole squadron of stealth bombers, the the 509th Bomb Wing based mostly at Whiteman Air Drive Base, has returned to operations, with the flight of certainly one of its B-2 bombers on Could 22 being the primary by the squadron in over six months. An accident at Whiteman Air Drive Base on December 10, 2022, was adopted by experiences three days later that the plane suffered harm after experiencing an “in-flight malfunction throughout routine operations” together with an onboard fireplace. This adopted a previous emergency touchdown in September 2021 which took one other B-2 out of service, which introduced the overall dimension of the American stealth bomber fleet to only 18 airframes. The December 10 crash resulted within the closure of the airbase’s runway for over 10 days, with the B-2 fleet subsequently remaining grounded as a part of a protracted security pause. The B-2’s upkeep necessities are by many estimates the best on the planet, with this leading to exorbitant operational prices far greater than these envisaged when the plane started growth. This and main overruns in manufacturing prices pressured the Air Drive to chop the fleet down to only 20 serial manufacturing airframes from an initially deliberate 120, with these airframes costing roughly $2 billion every.
The B-2 has since its entry into service in 1997 been among the many most fragile fight plane on the planet, with the plane needing to be saved in specifically air conditioned hangars and saved out of rain which has dominated out choices for deployments outdoors U.S. territory. The plane are however prized for his or her very excessive endurances and their capability to fly into defended enemy airspace in methods the older B-1B and B-52H can’t. This makes the B-2 successfully the one asset which may contribute to deliveries of heavy gravity bombs such because the GBU-57 that are relied on to have interaction closely fortified targets reminiscent of North Korean underground bases or Iranian nuclear weapons services. However, having been designed within the Eighties, the B-2’s stealth capabilities are more and more thought of out of date within the twenty first century as the subtle of radar methods has continued to develop exponentially and potential adversaries’ preparations to have interaction stealth targets have improved. Certainly, even by the early Nineteen Nineties enhancements in Soviet air defences with the introduction of methods such because the S-300PM in appreciable numbers, and anticipated imminent introduction of the MiG-31M interceptor with Zaslon-M radar, led the U.S. Air Drive to significantly query the B-2’s survivability and put money into modifying the airframe for low altitude flight at vital further value. The modification of the B-2 to have the ability to interact targets from safer distances utilizing cruise missiles, because the B-52 and B-1 had been earlier than it, is seen to be not less than partly a response to this.