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The B-2 Spirit
The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. A dramatic leap forward in technology, the B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.
The revolutionary blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload gives the B-2 important advantages over existing bombers.
The B-2’s low observability is derived from a combination of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and radar signatures. These signatures make it difficult for the sophisticated defensive systems to detect, track and engage the B-2. Many aspects of the low-observability process remain classified; however, the B-2’s composite materials, special coatings and flying-wing design all contribute to its “stealthiness.”
Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri, is the only operational base for the B-2.
Spare B-2 windshields sold as surplus
Brion Edwards, former communications technician at Whiteman AFB and a reader of The Aviation Geek Club contacted us to share an interesting story regarding the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
‘I had the privilege of serving as a US Air Force communications technician at Whiteman AFB, which is the home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber fleet.
‘One day a maintenance NCO came in to pick up a laptop, because he was driving a few states away to pick up some spare B-2 windshields. He told me that over 20 years of service and thousands of hours flying transcontinental missions, a B-2 has never needed a windshield replaced. The windshields were believed to be indestructible. During a routine flight, a B-2 struck a Canadian Goose and the impact left a hairline crack on a windshield.
‘The maintenance squadron placed and order with the Air Force parts depot, but they replied back that there were none in stock. The spare windshields had been in the warehouse such a long time with no orders for them, that someone thought they belonged to a discontinued air frame. The windshields were sent to the Air Force DRMO [Defense Reutilization Marketing Office] program, which sells surplus items to the public.
A stealthy tree house
‘The maintenance squadron reached out the company that manufactured the windshields to see if they had any spares, or could make a new windshield. The company stated they did not have any spares and the molds were disposed of a long time ago. If the Air Force wanted them to manufacture a new windshield, the company would need to retool an entire site, due to the windshields’ complexity. The cost would be astronomical.
‘In the meantime, the parts depot reached out to DRMO to try and identify anyone who may have purchased a windshield. It turns out, that the windshields were sold as a lot to one individual a few years prior. After much effort, the Air Force was able to locate the man and sent a representative to his residence. The man still had all of the spare windshields in his possession and through an undisclosed amount, agreed to sell them back to the Air Force.’
‘I am sure you are wondering why someone would purchase surplus aircraft windshields? He used them in his daughter’s tree house. How stealthy is your tree house?’
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/U.S. Air Force and and Mary Carson Own work via Wikipedia