CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Friday, February 24, 2017




  • Pentagon's missile defense chief says the 'time has come' for technology
  • Drones will fly at 65,000 feet or higher and stay aloft for days
  • Comes four years after laser equipped 747 was abandoned 
US Army bosses have revealed new plans to mount laser weapons on high altitude drones.
The Pentagon's missile defense chief says the 'time has come' for the technology, four years after the Air Force's laser equipped  Boeing 747 test plane was abandoned.
The drones will fly at 65,000 feet or higher and stay aloft for days.
The drones would fly at 65,000 feet or higher and stay aloft for days or even weeks, circling known launch sites high in the atmosphere, ready to fire is a launch was detected (pictured, a current Predator drone).
The drones would fly at 65,000 feet or higher and stay aloft for days or even weeks, circling known launch sites high in the atmosphere, ready to fire is a launch was detected (pictured, a current Predator drone).

HOW THEY WOULD WORK 

The drones will fly at 65,000 feet or higher and stay aloft for days, far above any adverse weather conditions. 
They would be positioned above known launch sites so they could fire upon enemy missiles as they lift off. 
They would be positioned above known launch sites so they could fire upon enemy missiles as they lift off. 
The plan is to see how the laser technology matures over the next three years to fit it on a high-altitude drone, Vice Adm. James Syring, the Missile Defense Agency director, said according to Defence One.
'We have significantly ramped up our program in terms of investment and talking about it more of what else needs to be done to mature this capability,' Syring said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington.
The Pentagon spent 16 years and $5 billion building the Airborne Laser, a heavily modified Boeing 747 jetliner with a bulbous chemical laser on its nose. In 2010, it shot down a missile in a test.
'It proved that this this concept could work,' Syring said. 
'It proved that, given enough power, given enough beam quality, given enough altitude, intercept of a ballistic missile … [at a] wide variety of ranges would theoretically be possible.'

THE AIRBORNE LASER - A FIVE BILLION DOLLAR PROJECT 

The Pentagon spent 16 years and $5 billion building the Airborne Laser, a heavily modified Boeing 747 jetliner with a bulbous chemical laser on its nose. In 2010, it shot down a missile in a test.
Aerospace and defence contractor Northrop Grumman produced the high-energy laser and Lockheed Martin are developing the beam and fire control system.
'This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform,' the U.S. MDA said at the time.
The Pentagon spent 16 years and $5 billion building the Airborne Laser, a heavily modified Boeing 747 jetliner with a bulbous chemical laser on its nose.
The Pentagon spent 16 years and $5 billion building the Airborne Laser, a heavily modified Boeing 747 jetliner with a bulbous chemical laser on its nose.
It added: 'The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defence, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light at a range of hundreds of kilometres and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies.'
The test took place at Point Mugu's Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range off Ventura in California. MDA did not say what the range was. 
Providing round-the-clock defense would have required small fleets of 747s plus fighter jets for protection and tanker aircraft to keep everything fueled up.
The Pentagon spent 16 years and $5 billion building the Airborne Laser, a heavily modified Boeing 747 jetliner with a bulbous chemical laser on its nose. In 2010, it shot down a missile in a test.
However,t he concept was flawed, and soon abandoned. 
Syring said power was the key to the new plans. 
'You're going to need as much power as you can get to destroy as many boosters as you can,' Syring said. 
'If you can balance that range, altitude, power and number of boosters you need to defeat to help augment our kinetic capability, you're thinking about the problem exactly right.' 
Initial trials of laser weapon revealed 'unprecedented power' of system, and it will now be tested against live targets at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this year (artist's impression shown)
Initial trials of laser weapon revealed 'unprecedented power' of system, and it will now be tested against live targets at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this year (artist's impression shown)

SHIELDS UP!

The AFRL is also working on a defensive laser shield.
A 360-degree laser 'bubble' would surround a U.S. warplane. 
That bubble would disable or destroy anything that comes inside, like a missile or another aircraft.
To invent such a shield, you'd need a turret that doesn't interfere with the aerodynamics of the warplane. 
A turret like that has already been successfully tested in partnership with Lockheed Martin and DARPA, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Air Force bosses have boasted combat lasers will be fitted to fighters planes by 2020.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is on track to demonstrate a working laser weapon on a fighter jet by 2020, it has revealed.
'It really is a national tipping point,' Kelly Hammett, chief engineer for the AFRL's directed energy directorate, told CNN 
'We see the technology evolving and maturing to the stage where it really can be used.'
The military hopes that the new generation of weapons could lead to radical changes in the way wars are fought, with planes having unlimited ammunition - as long as they have enough power. 
'You could have an unlimited magazine ... loitering aircraft that could address and access a wide variety of targets, Hammett said. 
'I believe we'll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon,' Air Force General Hawk Carlisle has claimed at the Air Force Association Air & Space conference in a presentation on what he called Fifth-Generation Warfare, according to Ars Technica
'That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is.'
The US Navy has already deployed a laser weapon at sea aboard the USS Ponce, capable of a range of attacks against small boats, drones, and light aircraft posing a threat, by blinding sensors or operators or heating elements to make them fail or explode. 
The weapons are expected to be used to shoot down drones.
The weapons are expected to be used to shoot down drones.
Other laser weapons are also being tested by the Office of Naval Research for use on helicopters to protect against man-portable anti aircraft missiles.
Directed-energy weapons pods could be affixed to aircraft to destroy or disable incoming missiles, drones, and even enemy aircraft at a much lower 'cost per shot' than missiles or even guns, Carlisle suggested. 
The front runner for the Air Force system is believed to be called the High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), and will create a laser small enough to be mounted on a plane, and is expected to be ready for use by 2020. 
General Atomics, the firm making, it, has revealed a full scale system is already under construction following tests.  
The AFRL is also working on a defensive laser shield.
A 360-degree laser 'bubble' would surround a U.S. warplane. 

  • Over the last two months coalition forces have seen one drone a day near Mosul  
  • New award will see 21 kits delivered to US forces by delay 
  • Believed the kits are able to scan for drones and the jam signals to down them
The US Air Force is spending $15m on a mysterious drone killing system from an Israeli firm.
The contract for  'counter-unmanned aerial systems' will supply 21 kits, which are believed to be earmarked for dealing with the growing threat of drones from ISIS.
However, details of the kits and how they will work have not been revealed, although it is believed to be a modified version of the firm's existing 'drone shield'
Scroll down for video 
The deal is with ELTA North America, a U.S. subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries which does produce a 'drone buster' called Drone Shield, pictured here. It is believed the new system mixes scanning systems with a system to disable drones mid flight, or cause them to return to their base, allowing them to be tracked.
The deal is with ELTA North America, a U.S. subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries which does produce a 'drone buster' called Drone Shield, pictured here. It is believed the new system mixes scanning systems with a system to disable drones mid flight, or cause them to return to their base, allowing them to be tracked.
According to Army documents, 'ELTA North America Inc., Annapolis Junction, Maryland, has been awarded a $15,553,483 firm-fixed-price letter contract for counter-unmanned aerial systems.  
'Contractor will provide the procurement, delivery, and training of 21 Man Portable Aerial Defense System kits. 
'The kits will be made is Israel and delivered to US bases by July 28, 2017,' it states. 
According to Defence One, the system was purchased by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. 
'It oversees communications and electronics purchases, which would hint the deal is likely for some some type of jamming system that can take down the small drones without firing a shot.' 
ELTA North America is a U.S. subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries - which does produce a 'drone buster' called Drone Shield. 
The system's radars can detect, track and jam small drones, and it is described as a'Compact and scalable drone detection and disruption system.'
Last year, the company said it had sold Drone Guard to 'several customers for critical asset and personnel protection,' but did not disclose the buyers.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

ELTA has tweaked its 3D radars to search for drones for short (10km), medium (15km) and long (20 km) ranges with special drone detection and tracking algorithms.
It also built sensors to spot them visually.
In order to disrupt the hostile UAV, ELTA has developed 'advanced adaptive jamming systems' which can be used in concert with its detection and identification sensors, or as a continuously operated stand-alone system. 
The jamming disrupts the drone's flight and can either causes it to return to its point-of-origin or to shut down and make a crash landing.

Drone guard can detect drones in the air prevent them from flying
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Nissim Hadas, IAI Executive VP and ELTA President said: 'We have managed to pack high grade military radar and jamming capabilities into a compact, effective and affordable drone protection system. 
'Since unveiling the Drone Guard system earlier this year we are experiencing steadily growing sales and demand of the system for military, HLS and civilian protection tasks'.
Earlier this year social media posts revealed that ISIS was modifying commercial drones to drop bombs.
Coalition air forces have hit ISIS-made drones and drone production sites in both Syria and Iraq.
According to press releases from the Combined Joint Task Force, coalition military forces conducted 32 strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq on January 12th alone, hitting an ISIS drone launch site in Northwestern Iraq.  
A US central command official told Defense One : 'Over the last two months, coalition forces have observed about one adversary drone every day around Mosul'
A US central command official told Defense One : 'Over the last two months, coalition forces have observed about one adversary drone every day around Mosul'
With the exception of just one day (January 10th), the forces have hit ISIS drones, drone launch sites or drone production sites daily since January 7th. 
A US central command official told Defense One: 'Over the last two months, coalition forces have observed about one adversary drone every day around Mosul.
'The Coalition has struck a number of what we believed to be unmanned aerial vehicle facilities in Mosul.
Iraqi soldiers have captured various kinds of drones from ISIS terrorists, especially quadcopters (pictured) - a drone with four rotors that help lift it
Iraqi soldiers have captured various kinds of drones from ISIS terrorists, especially quadcopters (pictured) - a drone with four rotors that help lift it
'We spend considerable time researching and developing target lists to ensure maximum effects against ISIS.'
Iraqi soldiers have captured different kinds of drones from ISIS terrorists, especially quadcopters- a drone with four rotors that help lift it.
The drones have been found to be carrying various types of bombs, including grenades and mortars.  
Iraqi Rapid Response Units in Mosul on Jan. 4: 
Quadcopter drones were reportedly captured by Iraqi Rapid Response Units in Mosul on January 4th
Iraqi Rapid Response Units reportedly brought down two drones on January 4th.  
And on January 7th, Peshmerga forces in Mosul shot down a drone that may have been a quadcopter.
According to Kurdish Rudaw news, the drone dropped ten bombs before it was shot down. 
Footage was recorded showing the moment the Peshmerga forces shot down the drone.
Some of the drones even deploy hidden explosives. 
In October, a drone that crashed near a Peshmerga camp outside Mosul suddenly exploded when the soldier took it apart.
The battery pack inside the drone hid an IED - an improvised explosive device - that exploded, killing two Peshmerga soldiers. 
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IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are homemade bombs are 'homemade' bombs that are sometimes used with destructive devices.
IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers, and insurgents.
Because they are improvised, IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small bombs to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage.
What makes IEDs especially dangerous is that they can can be easily carried, concealed, transported or thrown by a person. 
The term IED came into common usage during the Iraq War that began in 2003. 
IEDs consist of a range of components that include an initiator, switch, main charge, power source, and a container.
IEDs may be surrounded by or packed with other materials such as nails, glass, or metal fragments designed to increase the amount of shrapnel thrown by the explosion.
Iraqi forces have retaken at least 80 percent of east Mosul from Islamic State jihadists, the spokesman of the special forces spearheading the campaign said Wednesday
Iraqi forces have retaken at least 80 percent of east Mosul from Islamic State jihadists, the spokesman of the special forces spearheading the campaign said Wednesday
ISIS's use of drones as weapons isn't new.
In August 2015, the US Central Command announced that an ISIS drone had been destroyed in an airstrike. 
In November, Popular Mobilization Units (PMU's) shot down a huge drone, with footage showing the drone below.
Iraqi soldiers inspect drone used by ISIS forces
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Iraqi forces have retaken at least 80 percent of east Mosul from Islamic State jihadists, the spokesman of the special forces spearheading the campaign said Wednesday.
Over the past two weeks, Iraqi forces have overrun several districts and, for the first time, reached the Tigris River that runs through the heart of the city.
But the western part of Iraq's second city remains largely in IS hands.
Colonel Brett Sylvia, who commands an 'advise and assist' US unit in Iraq, said on Wednesday: 'There's a lot of fight that's left to do in western Mosul,' noting that IS had conducted extensive defensive work.
Still, he said, IS resistance had weakened in several areas. 

WHAT ARE IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES?

IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) are homemade bombs that are sometimes used with destructive devices.
IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers, and insurgents.
Because they are improvised, IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small bombs to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage.
What makes IEDs especially dangerous is that they can can be easily carried, concealed, transported or thrown by a person. 
The term IED came into common usage during the Iraq War that began in 2003. 
IEDs consist of a range of components that include an initiator, switch, main charge, power source, and a container.
IEDs may be surrounded by or packed with other materials such as nails, glass, or metal fragments designed to increase the amount of shrapnel thrown by the explosion.



US Army reveals truck-mounted laser to shoot down drones

That bubble would disable or destroy anything that comes inside, like a missile or another aircraft.
To invent such a shield, you'd need a turret that doesn't interfere with the aerodynamics of the warplane. 
A turret like that has already been successfully tested under Hammett at AFRL in partnership with Lockheed Martin and DARPA, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
'It's a huge deal,' Hammett said. 
Earlier this year the US Military Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has revealed it has just completed the first tests of the system that could eventually see laser weapons added to drones and fighter jets.
They say the weapons shows  'unprecedented power' and are about to begin testing it against live targets on firing ranges. 
White Sands Missile range, where the HELLADS laser system is set for field testing this summer.
White Sands Missile range, where the HELLADS laser system is set for field testing this summer.
'The goal of the HELLADS program is to develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats,' Darpa says.
It said the secretive trials 'demonstrated sufficient laser power and beam quality to advance to a series of field tests. 
'The technical hurdles were daunting, but it is extremely gratifying to have produced a new type of solid-state laser with unprecedented power and beam quality for its size,' said Rich Bagnell, yhe projects program manager.
'The HELLADS laser is now ready to be put to the test on the range against some of the toughest tactical threats our warfighters face.'
Ground-based field testing of the HELLADS laser is now expected to begin this year as an effort jointly funded by DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Following the field-testing phase, the goal is to make the system available to the military Services for further refinement, testing or transition to operational use.
The laser was developed by DARPA performer General Atomics
The laser was developed by DARPA performer General Atomics
The HELLADS program has been developing an electrically driven solid state laser at greatly reduced size and weight over lasers of similar power for tactical use. 
The laser was developed by DARPA performer General Atomics 
The weapons are expected to be used to shoot down drones. 
'Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats. 
'High power lasers can provide a solution to this challenge, as they harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats.'
However, they are also likely to be used on bombing raids to target precise locations.
'Laser weapon systems provide additional capability for offensive missions as well—adding precise targeting with low probability of collateral damage.' 
Following the tests, GA said 'based on the results of the unit cell demonstration, additional laser modules will be fabricated to produce a 150 kW laser that will be demonstrated in a laboratory environment.' 

Northrop Grumman teases sixth generation supersonic ‘superfighter’ with laser weapons and stealth bomber set to replace the B-2 in Superbowl ad

  • Northrop Grumman say fighter concept is known as NG Air Dominance
  • Will feature laser weapons capable of tracking multiple targets
  • Super Bowl ad also showed off what is believed to be replacement for B-2
Northrop Grumman has teased tantalising mage of a new stealth 'superjet' capable of firing laser weapons and its possible replacement for the B-2 stealth bomber during a Super Bowl ad.
The so called 'sixth generation fighter' is rumoured to fly at supersonic speeds, although Northrop Grumman, who are developing it, say the specifications are still secret.
It used a Superbowl ad shown in some parts of the US to show the latest mockups of the still-classified vehicle.
Scroll down for video 
The video gives a fleeting glimpse of the sixth generation fighter, 
The video gives a fleeting glimpse of the sixth generation fighter, 

LASER WEAPONS 'COMING SOON' 

Air Force bosses have boasted combat lasers will be fitted to fighters planes 'very soon' and have revealed a full scale prototype is being built.
'I believe we'll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon,' Air Force General Hawk Carlisle has claimed at the Air Force Association Air & Space conference in a presentation on what he called Fifth-Generation Warfare, according to Ars Technica.
'That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is.' 
The stealth craft is expected to use advanced cooling systems to help disguise its laser systems.  
Chris Hernandez, Northrop's vice president for research, technology and advanced design, told BreakingDefence last year the sixth-gem fighter will be long range because it won't have many bases to operate from overseas; it must 'carry a lot of weapons;' survivability will be key.
What do those requirements and physics lead you to? 
'This looks a lot like a baby B-2 and this is really getting into our sweet spot,' Hernandez said.
Northrop Grumman has two design teams working on the new aircraft. 
However, the firm would not discuss the plane's speed, saying that would have to wait for clearer direction from the Pentagon in the future.
It is expected to use laser weapons - and this has caused major problems around heat.  
As Northrop president for aerospace Tom Vice said, managing heat will be key. 
'Add in all the aircraft's power and thrust systems, and you have an enormous heat challenge,' said Hernandez. 
The craft is expected to be used in 2030.
In April 2012, the Navy issued a formal request for information for the F/A-XX. 

Futuristic fighter jets unveiled in Super Bowl 50 ad

The clip shows the fighters rolling and twisting in combat
The clip shows the fighters rolling and twisting in combat
It calls for an air superiority fighter with multi-role capabilities to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft in the 2030s,
Boeing and Northrop Grumman are both developing concepts. 
Lockheed Martin has been working on next-generation air dominance-related activities with the U.S. Armed Services and most recently the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to determine the best way to maintain air dominance in the post-2035 world.
In October of 2012, Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense, tasked DARPA to explore concepts for the next generation of air dominance. 
In an attempt to break the battle space into smaller pieces, DARPA defined separate focus areas that span capabilities across the air dominance battle space.

THE REPLACEMENT FOR THE B2 BOMBER

The Air Force has chosen Northrop Grumman Corp., maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, to build its next-generation bomber.
The highly classified, $80 billion project is designed to replace the aging B-2 bomber fleet with an information-age aircraft that eventually may be capable of flying without a pilot aboard.
The loser of the high-stakes bidding contest was a team formed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. 
The video also shows off what is believed to be the firm's concept for a plane to replace the B-2 Bomber
The video also shows off what is believed to be the firm's concept for a plane to replace the B-2 Bomber
It was reported in July last year that the Air Force only generally described the platform, which it has designated as a top priority along with the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46A tanker.
'The new bomber will be a long-range, air-refuelable, highly survivable aircraft with significant nuclear and conventional stand-off and direct-attack weapons payload,' the service said. 
'The LRS-B will provide operational flexibility across a wide range of military operations.'
'The long-range strike bomber will support America's defense strategy by forming the backbone of the Air Force's future strike and deterrent capabilities,' Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a Pentagon news conference.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost at $348 billion over 10 years, and others have said it could approach $1 trillion over 30 years.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost at $348 billion over 10 years, and others have said it could approach $1 trillion over 30 years.
Carter said the new bomber will meet the nation's long-range strike aircraft needs for the next 50 years.
Wes Bush, chairman and chief executive of Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman, said in a brief statement that his company will deliver on its promise to build a highly capable, affordable aircraft.
'Our team has the resources in place to execute this important program, and we're ready to get to work,' Bush said.
The announcement marks an important step in the Pentagon's broader plan to modernize the entire nuclear force — missile-toting submarines, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers. 
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost at $348 billion over 10 years, and others have said it could approach $1 trillion over 30 years.
The craft has a single wing 'stealth design to evade detection
The craft has a single wing 'stealth design to evade detection
'This decomposition may not be perfect and will most certainly be fine-tuned over time, but it does provide a logical construct for looking at the future battle space,' said Mark Jefferson, director of Next Generation Air Dominance programs at the Skunk Works.
Previous reports say the superjet might even not have a pilot.
According to the Pentagon, it may partially fall in the hands of artificial intelligence (AI).
Reports say that both the US Navy and Air Force are planning next-generation fighters that don't have just a human pilot.
Boeing (pictured) and Northrop Grumman are both developing concepts.
Boeing (pictured) and Northrop Grumman are both developing concepts.
Known internally as NG Air Dominance, the craft features laser weapons. The so called 'sixth generation fighter' is rumoured to fly at supersonic speeds, although Northrop Grumman, who are developing it, say the specifications are still classified.
Known internally as NG Air Dominance, the craft features laser weapons. The so called 'sixth generation fighter' is rumoured to fly at supersonic speeds, although Northrop Grumman, who are developing it, say the specifications are still classified.
Future fighter jets may have an AI co-pilot on board that can help with sensory data in addition to autonomously landing the plane on an aircraft carrier. 
According to the US Naval Institute (USNI), artificial intelligence will feature prominently on the successors to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.
The US Navy is working on the F/A-XX and the Air Force on the F-X, with both designed to replace their predecessors by 2030 at the earliest.
Boeing's new compact laser brings down drones

'AI is going to be huge,' a US Navy official told the USNI.
While the exact purpose of AI in aircraft isn't known yet, it could have a number of uses from acting as a co-pilot to carrying out autonomous landings.
According to Popular Science the robotic co-pilots would be especially helpful for aircraft carriers, which are difficult to land on.
Recently the Navy's X-47B experimental drone landed autonomously on an aircraft, demonstrating the usefulness of AI in such a situation.
AI could also help with something known as advanced sensor fusion.
This involves combining data from various sensors to get a more accurate reading of a situation or location.
The Navy and Air Force are also hoping to get help from industry experts in Silicon Valley to aid them in the design of such sixth-generation fighters. 
Northrop Grumman hangar TV commercial

THE HISTORY OF THE B-2 BOMBER 

The first operational aircraft, christened Spirit of Missouri, was delivered to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, where the fleet is based, on 17 December 1993.
Twenty one aircraft were built in the original B-2 fleet. 
The B-2 has demonstrated its capabilities in several combat scenarios, including Operation Allied Force in Kosovo; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and most recently, in Libya, during Operation Odyssey Dawn.
The B-2 is the only U.S. aircraft that combines long range, large payload and stealth in a single platform, giving it the ability to project air power anywhere in the world. 
It can fly 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling.

With its ability to carry more than 20 tons of conventional and nuclear ordnance and deliver it precisely under any weather conditions, the B-2 also has the ability to change the outcome of a conflict with a single mission. 
Today, the fleet consists of 20 aircraft, following the loss, in February 2008, of the Spirit of Kansas, which crashed while taking off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the only such incident in the B-2's more than 20 years of operation. 
Nineteen B-2s are currently based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., home of the 509th Bomb Wing, while one aircraft is assigned to flight testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. to validate software and weapon systems upgrades.








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