Military Aviation

Whiteman Celebrates 30th Anniversary of B-2 Spirit’s First Flight

With its unique flying wing design and advancing avionics systems, the B-2 Spirit is more lethal and innovative today as it was 30 years ago.

This year, Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) commemorates the 30th anniversary of the B-2 Spirit’s inaugural test flight on Jul. 17, 1989, from Palmdale to Edwards AFB, California.

For three decades, B-2 crews have participated in five major military operations and countless training engagements. The bomber has completed missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and most recently Libya. The B-2 was also the first aircraft over Afghanistan after the Sep. 11 attacks, for which aircraft and crew hold the record for longest combat mission at 44.3 hours. As the U.S. Air Force told in a news release, the stealth bomber has been a vital component of America’s National Defense and stands as a symbol of the Air Force’s global strike capabilities.

“The combination of range, payload, and stealth is really what makes the B-2 unique in all these fights,” said Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander. A command pilot now responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force’s only B-2 base. “Our adversaries don’t know when a conflict is going to heat up, or when Whiteman is going to be called into the fight.”

B-2 expertise and dedication is shared here at Whiteman AFB following the 2008 total force integration of the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing, a Missouri Air National Guard Unit. This shared responsibility includes training, maintenance and combat operations around the globe and is necessary for the success of this program.

“At the heart of the stealth enterprise are the men and women in uniform and civilian experts who work tirelessly to provide an asset of unmatched capability,” Schreiner said. “With their expertise and dedication, the B-2 will remain an invaluable asset to our nation for years to come.”

With its unique flying wing design and advancing avionics systems, the B-2 Spirit is more lethal and innovative today as it was 30 years ago. Whiteman AFB world-class Airmen conduct daily testing and maintenance, long-duration training missions, and readiness exercises to keep the B-2 Spirit operational. The stealth bomber is a vital component of America’s National Defense and stands as a symbol of the Air Force’s Global Strike capabilities, 30 years from its inaugural test flight.

A B-2 Spirit, two F-16 Fighting Falcons and an F-18 Hornet sit on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for Exercise Valiant Shield on Thursday, Jun. 22. The exercise, which concluded Jun. 23, focused on integrated joint training in a variety of mission scenarios.

Photo credit: Paul Ridgway and Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III / U.S. Air Force

Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Co-Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. He has flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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