Squadron Service

Squadron Service

On December 17th 1993 the 509th Bomb Wing's first B-2, 88-0329 (AV-8) arrived at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, at 14:04 local time. Piloted by General John M. Loh, ACC Commander, and Lt. Col. John Bellanger of the 509th BW, the aircraft flew from Edwards AFB to Whiteman. The aircraft was named the "Spirit of Missouri".

On December 22nd 1993 the first B-2 sortie generated from Whiteman AFB took place.

On January 24th 1994 the 509th Operation Group's Loading Standardization Crew and 393rd Bomb Squadron Lead Crew successfully completed the first bomb load on the "Spirit of Missouri".

At a ceremony held on March 31st 1994 at the B-2 Final Assembly Facility at Palmdale, California, the Air Force officially named the B-2 the "Spirit". At the same ceremony 88-0330 (AV-9) was named "Spirit of California".

The "Spirit of Missouri" participated in a flyover at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, on April 28th 2004.

On May 16th 1994 the "Missouri" flew to Andrews AFB as part of ACC's Power Projection Day. From May 16th to the 21st the aircraft flew five sorties for 14.6 hours, the first time that the B-2 had flown that many sorties in such a short time span. It was also the first time that the aircraft had landed outside of Whiteman AFB.

The second operational B-2, 88-0330 "Spirit of California", arrived at Whiteman on August 17th 1994.

On August 31st 1994 the third operational B-2, 88-0328, arrived at Whiteman.

The "Spirit of California" carried out the first ever operational delivery of munitions by a B-2 on September 23rd 1994 when it flew to the Utah Test and Training Range to drop two inert Mk84 2000lb bombs.

88-0328 was named "Spirit of Texas" in a ceremony at Dallas NAS, Texas, on September 24th 1994.

On October 29th 1994 the fourth operational B-2, 88-0332 was named "Spirit of Washington" in a ceremony at Boeing Field. The aircraft arrived at Whiteman the following day.

The 509th's fifth B-2, 88-0331, arrived at Whiteman on December 30th 1994.

Beginning at 13:37 local time on January 12th 1995 the 509th launched three B-2s within 35 minutes of each other, marking the first time that that many operational B-2s were in the air at one time. The three aircraft completed air refueling and bombing tasks, and transitioned for a record total of six B-2 sorties in one day.

From January 23rd to February 15th 1995, an undisclosed number of B-2s made the type's first appearance at a Red Flag exercise, held at Nellis AFB.

On February 17th 1995 the sixth operational B-2, 89-0127, landed at Whiteman.

88-0331 was named the "Spirit of South Carolina" in a ceremony held at Columbia, South Carolina, on April 15th 1995, and 89-0127 was named the "Spirit of Kansas" on May 13th 1995 in a ceremony held at McConnell AFB.

On June 10th/11th 1995 the B-2 made its first appearance outside the USA when 88-0329, piloted by Brig. Gen. Marcotte, flew nonstop from Whiteman AFB to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. The B-2 was on the ground for an hour where an Engine Running Crew Change (ERCC) was carried out. The new crew then flew the aircraft back to Missouri. The 11-hour flight to Paris and 13-hour flight back to Whiteman marked the longest flights ever made by the B-2 fleet at the time.

On June 28th 1995 the seventh B-2, 89-0128, arrived at Whiteman.

The "Spirit of Kansas" flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, on September 1st 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the US victory in the Pacific theatre during World War II. The trip marked the B-2's first mission over the Pacific Ocean.

The 509th's seventh B-2, 89-0128, was named the "Spirit of Nebraska" during a ceremony held at Offutt AFB on September 3rd 1995.

On November 9th 1995 the first B-2 to arrive at Whiteman, 88-0329, returned to Northrop-Grumman's plant at Palmdale to undergo upgrading to Block 30 standard.

The eighth operational B-2, 89-0129, arrived at Whiteman on November 14th 1995. It was officially named the "Spirit of Georgia" in a ceremony held at Robins AFB on December 11th 1995. The "Spirit of California", piloted by Brig. General Marcotte, escorted her sister ship back to Whiteman thereby making "Georgia"'s flight the 509th B-2 sortie flown by the 509th Bomb Wing.

The ninth operational B-2 Spirit, 90-0041, arrived at Whiteman on January 11th 1996. Aircraft number 10, 90-0040, arrived shortly afterwards on January 24th.

On February 8th 1996 two B-2s, the "Spirit of Washington" and the "Spirit of California", left Whiteman AFB for Andersen AFB, Guam, as part of ACC's Global Power missions and to participate in the 1996 Asian Aerospace Air Show in Singapore. The bombers returned to Whiteman on February 11th.

The "Spirit of Kansas" made a flyover appearance at the FIDAE 96 Air Show in Santiago, Chile on March 10th 1996, after which it returned to Whiteman. The 24.5-hour flight was the longest B-2 Global Power mission to date.

During March 1996 B-2 82-1070 began cold-weather trials in Alaska, which lasted until mid-1996.

On March 28-29th 1996 the 509th BW conducted its fourth aircraft generation exercise. This was the first time that a B-2 was generated to a full-alert configuration.

B-2 operations were halted on May 10th 1996 following concern over a clamp in the aircraft's tail pipe assembly. After all the aircraft had been checked the stand-down was lifted on May 21st.

On May 15th 1996, the eleventh operational B-2, 93-1085, arrived at Whiteman. This event marked another important stage in the program because this aircraft was the first Block 20 aircraft to be delivered.

A B-2 was apparently hit by lightning on May 24th 1996, causing minor damage to its wing surfaces.

The ninth operational B-2 Spirit, 90-0041, was named "Spirit of Hawaii" on May 27th 1996 during ceremonies at Hickham AFB, Hawaii.

The 509th flew its first sortie with a Block 20 B-2 (93-1085) on June 1st 1996. The mission lasted about 5½ hours.

The second Block 20 aircraft, 92-0700, arrived at Whiteman on July 3rd.

The 509th received its first GATS/GAM weapons on July 12th 1996.

AV-15 (90-0040) was named the "Spirit of Alaska" on July 27th 1996 during ceremonies at Eielson AFB.

Another B-2 was hit by lightning on July 29th 1996, while at an altitude of 10000m over Tennessee.

On August 30th 1996 the thirteen operational B-2, 93-1086, arrived at Whiteman AFB.

B-2 88-0332 "Washington" performed a flypast at the Farnborough Air Show on September 2nd 1996. This is believed to be the first time that a B-2 was in UK airspace.

B-2 93-1085 was named "Spirit of Oklahoma" in a ceremony held at Tinker AFB on September 14th 1996.

On September 17th 1996 the 509th BW executed the first operational drop of the GPS-Aided Munition (GAM). Each of the three inert weapons dropped landed within seven feet of the target.

Three B-2s successfully executed the first live drops of the GPS-Aided Munition (GAM) at the Nellis AFB range complex on October 8th 1996. In all, the Spirits dropped sixteen of the unique munitions from an altitude of 12000m and destroyed all sixteen targets. Also during the flight, Maj Rex Bailey of the 509th OG, became the first Air Force pilot to reach 500 hours in the B-2.

The wing's twelfth B-2, 92-0700, was named the "Spirit of Florida" on October 23rd 1996 during ceremonies at MacDill AFB, Florida.

On November 7th 1996 HQ ACC activated the 394th Combat Training Squadron at Whiteman and assigned the unit to the 509th BW. This unit provides aviators qualified in the B-2 weapon system to the 393rd BS.

Capts Scott Vander Hamm and Scott Hughes completed a 38-hour long endurance simulator flight, possibly the longest simulator flight in Air Force history, on November 11th 1996.

Flown by Col James Macon, 509th BW Vice Wing Commander, and Maj Len Litton, the "Spirit of Washington" recorded the 509th's 1000th B-2 flight on November 21st 1996.

The 509th's thirteenth B-2, 93-1086, was named the "Spirit of Kitty Hawk" on December 17th 1996 during ceremonies at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.

On December 30th 1996 the Air Force announced that the B-2 had achieved Limited Operational Capability in a conventional bombing role.

In early 1997 the last Block 10 aircraft was withdrawn from service.

Major Steven Moulton and Captain Jeff Long completed a record-setting 44.4 hour simulator flight on February 7th 1997.

On February 19th 1997 the 509th conducted a generation exercise which included the first ever B-2 aircraft taxi exercise in response to an simulated emergency action message.

In March 1997 a B-2 released two inert JDAMs. Each B-2 can carry up to 16 JDAMs or GAMs, and each of these 900kg weapons has the capability to strike within 3m of a target.

On March 19th/20th 1997 B-2 "Spirit of Florida" piloted by Maj. Robert Neal and Capt. Scott Hughes of the 393rd Bomb Squadron flew a 29-hour round-trip Global Power mission, including four aerial refuellings and a live conventional weapon release over the Vieques Range, Puerto Rico.

The 509th Bomb Wing reached Initial Operational Capability with the B-2 bomber on April 1st 1997.

A precautionary stand-down from routine training missions was imposed on April 8th 1997, following concern over a shaft assembly between the B-2's F118 engine and accessory drive.

On May 24th 1997 B-2 93-1086 made the type's first appearance at a public air show in the UK when it performed a flypast at the RAF Mildenhall Open House during a 30-hour mission. The aircraft was escorted by two F-15Cs from the 48th FW at Lakenheath. During this mission the crew (Capt Jeff Long and Maj Scott Kramer) released a GAM-113 weapon.

"Spirit of Nebraska", crewed by Majs Chris Inman and Steve Moulton, completed a 37.6-hour, 23000-km global power mission on July 6th/7th 1997, flying from Whiteman to Guam and back.

The first refurbished development aircraft, AV-5 (82-1070) arrived at Whiteman on July 18th 1997. It had been named the "Spirit of Ohio" at Wright-Patterson AFB three days earlier.

On July 19th 1997 B-2 89-0127 "Spirit of Kansas" landed at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in front of thousands of spectators. The aircraft was on the ground for about an hour before returning to Whiteman. As at Mildenhall, the aircraft had two F-15 escorts while it was in the air.

The first Block 30 B-2, 93-1087, was named "Spirit of Pennsylvania" in a ceremony at Willow Grove NAS on August 5th 1997. It arrived at Whiteman AFB later the same day.

On August 6th 1997 eight of the Wing's nine B-2s were put on display in response to a START treaty request from Russia.

The refurbished AV-3 (82-1068) was flown from Edwards AFB to Stewart ANGB on October 10th 1997. It was named "Spirit of New York", and was then flown back to Edwards to continue the test program.

On November 6th 1997 the "Spirit of Pennsylvania" dropped several inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions during a flight over the Utah test range. During a different mission "Spirit of Florida" flew with a new bomb rack assembly, which allows the B-2 to carry a greater range of munitions.

AV-21, 93-1088, was named "Spirit of Louisiana" on November 10th 1997 during ceremonies at Barksdale AFB.

The third Block 30 B-2, 82-1067, arrived at Whiteman on December 7th 1997. This was the refurbished second aircraft, AV-2.

On January 6th 1998 the 325th Bomb Squadron, under the command of Lt Col. Will Gildner, was activated at Whiteman AFB and was assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing.

B-2 93-1085 "Spirit of Oklahoma" opened Superbowl XXXII in San Diego on January 25th 1998.

On January 30th 1998 the "Spirit of Missouri" returned to Whiteman from Palmdale, where it had been modified to Block 30 standard. The aircraft joined the 325th BS.

A B-2 (probably AV-4) dropped two dummy B61-11 nuclear weapons at the Stuart Creek Impact Area, 35 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, on March 26th 1998. The B61-11 is a modification of the B61 with a harder casing, giving it a ground penetration capability. These tests were to measure the bomb casing's ability to penetrate frozen soil.

AV-2 was named "Spirit of Arizona" at Davis-Monthan AFB on March 20th 1998.

On March 25th 1998 the two Block 30 B-2s, 93-1088 "Spirit of Louisiana" crewed by Brig Gen Tom Goslin and Maj Jim Schmidt, and 93-1087 "Spirit of Pennsylvania", crewed by Capts Tony Monetti and Christopher Harness, deployed to Guam for exercise "Island Spirit". The B-2s were refuelled "en route" by a KC-135 tanker from the 203rd ARS, Hawaii ANG. The exercise involved around 200 personnel from the 509th BW. It tested every aspect of operating and maintaining the Block 30 aircraft away from their home base. One of the aircraft was left outside (because its hanger had been damaged by a typhoon), exposing its low-observable coating to direct sunlight and driving rain.

The tropical weather had little effect on the maintenance and operation of the aircraft. The bombers achieved a 100% sortie success rate, and accumulated nearly 90 flying hours. The first operational drop of 80 Mk82 bombs was carried out in the Farallon De Medinilla islands north of Guam by "Spirit of Pennsylvania".

The B-2s departed Guam for Whiteman AFB on April 2nd 1998, having accumulated almost 90 hours flying time during the exercise.

In early April 1998 a B-2 sustained damage from a bird strike, which required "significant repairs".

On April 28th 1998 B-2 93-1088 "Spirit of Louisiana", flown by Major Darrell Davis and Captain Doug Carpenter of the 393rd Bomb Squadron dropped four 900kg BLU-109 GPS-aided JDAMS against three targets on the White Sands Missile Range. Two of the bombs were aimed at the same target, and the second followed the first into the same hole; this is known as a "consecutive miracle" because it is so difficult to achieve. The BLU-109 is an earth penetrating weapon designed to attack buried targets or above-ground reinforced concrete buildings.

The 509th Bomb Wing's nineteenth B-2, 82-1071 (AV-6), was named "Spirit of Mississippi" at a ceremony held on May 23rd 1998 at Jackson ANGB, Miss.

The 509th BW began its first-ever operational readiness inspection on June 10th 1998. The ORI lasted 12 days.

On August 6th 1998 B-2 training missions were suspended pending replacement of initiators which activate the aircrew ejection system. A potential flaw in the initiators was discovered by the manufacturer during routine acceptance testing. Normal flying operations were resumed on August 10th.

On September 4th 1998 three B-2s were quickly deployed to Guam, accompanied by three B-52Hs, in order to fly some "fairly long, highly visible missions throughout the theater". This was obviously done in order to send a signal to Iraq. B-2s were being prepared for strikes against Iraqi targets, but Iraq backed down over UN weapons inspectors on November 14th. When Operation "Desert Fox" was launched against Iraq on December 16th, no B-2s were involved.

The last Block 20 B-2, 93-1085 "Spirit of Oklahoma", left Whiteman AFB in December 1998 to be upgraded to Block 30 standard at Palmdale.

On February 11th-12th 1999 the Spirits of "South Carolina" and "Nebraska" flew a Global Power mission from Whiteman to the United Kingdom and back.

Col Tony Imondi and Maj Darrell Davis flew B-2 82-1067 "Spirit of Arizona" on a Global Power mission to RAF Fairford on March 10th 1999. The aircraft arrived at 09:55 local time after a 10½-hour flight and departed, with Lt Col Will Gildner and Maj Terry Sunnarborg at the controls, at 11:00. The aircraft was escorted by 48th Fighter Wing F-15s while in UK airspace.

Planning for the B-2's involvement in the NATO Operation "Allied Force" against Serbia began several weeks in advance of the bomber's first mission. The targets which were to be attacked had already been identified and had been programmed into the B-2 simulator, allowing pilots to begin practising their missions.

By March 20th 1999 it appears that B-2 crews had received the GPS co-ordinates necessary for the GAM weapons to locate and destroy their targets. They had also received imagery of the target areas, which they could check against the imagery returned by aircraft's radar system.

The B-2 made its combat debut in the early hours of March 24th 1999, when two aircraft attacked Serbian targets. Each aircraft dropped 16 2000lb GPS-Aided Munitions after a 16-hour flight from Whiteman. The B-2s were the first manned combat aircraft in action following the initial cruise missile strikes. It is believed that their first targets were components of the Serbian air defence system.

During the operations against Serbia, the B-2s generally did not operate with other assets as part of a strike package, but instead performed their missions either as singletons or in pairs outside the NATO command structure (called Operation "Noble Anvil"), although they were included in 34 of 53 Air Tasking Orders.

By April 1st 1999 the USAF had used up 224 GAMs, more than a third of its total stocks. This shows that 14 individual aircraft sorties had been flown by this point.

Between April 5th and 12th 1999 a further 160 GAMs had been expended. On these occasions the B-2s were mostly performing two-ship missions.

In a briefing to journalists on May 5th 1999, Brig Gen Leroy Barnidge Jr., Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, revealed that since the start of Operation "Allied Force" B-2s had dropped more than 1 million pounds of ordnance on targets in Serbia. Since each B-2 can carry up to 32000lb of ordnance (16 GAMs), this means that at least 32 missions had been flown up to May 5th.

The General said: "A B-2 is equivalent to eight F-117s. We can take this thing [B-2] thousands of miles; we can go into very lethal environments, and we can put bombs exactly where we want them. Then we bring the guys home, turn the jets and do it again. That's not a bad return on your investment."

On May 7th 1999 three GAMs dropped by a B-2 hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which caused a diplomatic incident. This building was targetted based on an out-of-date map, which showed it as a Serbian government facility.

The last B-2 mission in support of Operation "Allied Force" was flown on May 21st 1999.

Six B-2s were used to fly combat missions in "Allied Force". These aircraft flew 49 missions, representing 1% of all allied missions flown, but they accounted for about 11% of total bombs dropped during the campaign (about 700 GAMs and four GBU-37s, total weight 1.3 million lb). Target destruction rate was assessed to be 87%. Fifty-one of the 53 pilots on strength with the 509th flew at least one combat mission over Serbia.

The twentieth operational B-2, 82-1069 (the refurbished AV-4), was named "Spirit of Indiana" at a ceremony at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana on May 22nd 1999. The aircraft was flown back to Whiteman by Brig Gen Barnidge, 509th Bomb Wing commander, and Lt Col Petrek, 394th CTS commander.

The first Air Force pilot to reach 1000 flying hours in a B-2 was Lt Col Rich Vandenburgh, who achieved this milestone during May 1999 aboard B-2 82-1067 "Spirit of Arizona". "Arizona" had accumulated 1400 hours in the air, the most in the fleet.

Saturday July 17th 1999 marked the 10th anniversary of the B-2's first flight from Palmdale to Edwards AFB, California. Including flight test time, the B-2 fleet amassed nearly 20000 hours in those ten years.

"Spirit of Indiana" arrived at RAF Fairford on July 23rd 1999 to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo. The aircraft appeared in the static display (the first time this had occured in the UK) and also flew on both days of the show. The aircraft returned to Whiteman on July 25th.

Four B-2s from the 325th Bomb Squadron participated in exercise "Spirit Hawk II" at Mountain Home AFB from October 4th thru October 15th 1999. The Spirits flew twelve sorties in this Red Flag-type exercise that uses both low-observable and conventional aircraft in composite strike packages.

On January 11th 2000 the B-2 Test Team carried out the first-ever release of a live AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) from a B-2 over the Utah Test and Training Range. Further weapons were released on January 19th and 25th.

The first test demonstrated the ability of the munition to over fly pre-programmed waypoints. The second test validated an in-flight manual delivery selection, and the third demonstrated the capability to use the GPS-aided targeting system with JSOW to refine target location and update target coordinates real time.

In April 2000 Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge Jr, the 509th Bomb Wing commander, was named the 1999 outstanding Wing Commander in Air Combat Command.

On May 25th 2000 B-2 90-0040 "Alaska" arrived at RAF Mildenhall to take part in Air Fete 2000. Maj Bob Duncan of the 325th BS and Maj Timothy Fay of the 393rd BS flew the first day of the show, and Maj Randy Brawley and Capt Scott Hannan, both of the 393rd, flew on the second day. "Alaska" departed, accompanied by two 48th Fighter Wing F-15Cs, on May 29th.

The 509th Bomb Wing deployed three aircraft and more than 90 personnel to Andersen AFB, Guam, on June 18th 2000 for a 12-day global power mission called "Coronet Spider". While at Andersen, the aircraft formed the 325th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. A total of 14 sorties were scheduled to be flown. The first objective of the deployment was to prove the B-2's ability to be used from a forward operating location. The second objective was to test the Combat Track II data link system, which is used to relay up-to-date target information while bombers are en route to the target. Combat Track II is an interim system; the actual datalink scheduled for the B-2 is Link 16.

The first B-2 built, AV-1/82-1066, became the 21st and final B-2 to join the 509th Bomb Wing on July 14th 2000. The aircraft was named "Spirit of America" in a ceremony held at Langley AFB, Virginia. A second B-2, 93-1086 "Spirit of Kitty Hawk", performed a fly-past.

The London "Sunday Times" contained an article on July 16th 2000 headlined "America to station stealth bombers in Britain". This story claimed that six B-2s are to be stationed at RAF Fairford when it re-opens in 2001 following runway reconstruction and the building of climate-controlled hangers. It seems to me that permanent forward basing of B-2s is unlikely, but the Air Force is clearly looking to acquire the ability to forward-deploy them to Fairford, Diego Garcia or Guam in a crisis.

During July 2000 the 509th BW reached a milestone, when B-2 89-0129 "Georgia" flew the B-2's 25000th accident-free hour.

B-2 AV-4 arrived at Edwards AFB on August 30th 2000 to begin the flight testing of various B-2 upgrades. The first period of testing will evaulate the application of magnetic radar-absorbing materials on surace panels. This is intended to improve maintainability by providing technicians with more rapid access to systems behind the panels.

The second phase of testing evaluated the following upgrades:

  • Improved satellite communications to increase communication speed, security and resistance to jamming, as well as allowing an entire mission to be uploaded while the aircraft is en route to a target.
  • Software upgrades to reduce crew workload, enhance radar and navigation system capabilities, and improve maintainability.
  • Integration of the JASSM weapon using a new software package called the Generic Weapons Systems Interface.

On September 6th 2000 the 509th dropped the first full-rate inventory JSOW at the Utah Test and Training Range.

On May 12th 2001 at 05:00 local time four B-2 pilots completed a 50-hour mission in the simulator, the longest B-2 sim mission ever carried out. The crew members involved were Capts Tumidanski, Stefan and Gebara of the 393rd BS and Capt Larson of the 325th BS.

In June 2001, 90 members of the 509th BW deployed to Andersen AFB to carry out a 12-day 'Global Power' mission under the exercise codename Coronet Spider. The purpose of the exercise was to practice the forward deployment of the aircraft and support services. During the exercise the 325th EBS flew 14 sorties using only three aircraft.

On July 28th and 29th 2001 B-2 89-0127 "Kansas" made two appearances at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Cottesmore, making one pass over the airfield on each day. The purpose of these two flights to the UK was to test the bomber's combat turn-round time. After flying a 21 hour round trip on the Saturday the aircraft was back in the air again with a fresh 325th BS crew after only 3 hours 15 minutes on the ground. 89-0127 had zero maintenance writeups on its return to Whiteman after the two missions.

Lt. Col. Bob Wheeler, 325th BS commander, and Col. Jonathan George, 509th Operations Group commander, flew the bomber on July 28th. Maj. Scott Trotter and Capt. Chris Larson, also from the 325th BS, performed the July 29th flyover.

On October 5th 2001 a single B-2 from the 393rd BS, having flown all the way from Whiteman AFB, dropped a 4700lb GBU-37/B 'bunker-busting' bomb on a suspected al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The aircraft recovered to Diego Garcia for an engine-running crew change, and then returned to Whiteman.

A total of six B-2s participated in air strikes during the first three days of Operation Enduring Freedom. All six sorties were longer than 40 hours, with the longest over 44 hours, making it the longest combat sortie in the history of aviation. The main weapon expended was the 2000lb GBU-31 JDAM, along with some GBU-37/Bs. Weapons were released from high altitude, thought to be around 50000 ft. The B-2s went after air defence and airfield sites, a troop garrison, and terrorist targets.

At the start of "Enduring Freedom", only eleven B-2s were actually available for combat operations. By November another aircraft had gone unserviceable. This low availablity rate was because the aircraft's composite skin needed time-consuming repairs before it could meet LO standards.

In April 2002 Oklahoma City ALC announced that the B-2 System Program Office had developed a new robotic way of applying RAM to the B-2, which was 80% faster than the then-current manual method. By more precisely controlling the RAM's thickness and location, the new method was expected to improve B-2 mission capable rates by 8%, and reduce MMHFH by 50%.

On May 15th 2002 an unidentified B-2 collapsed while workers were carrying out "unscheduled maintenance" on it, injuring five of them. According to the AIB report, one of the maintenance personnel improperly removed a landing gear safety pin, and then pushed the locking assembly into an unsafe position. Without hydraulic power, the aircraft collapsed under its own weight. The extent of the damage to the B-2 was not known.

On July 3rd 2002 Maj. Melvin Deaile, a B-2 instructor pilot with the 393rd Bomb Squadron, won the Air Force Exceptional Pilot Award. Part of the reason he was nominated for this award was a 44-hour combat sortie, the longest in aviation history. Deaile played a key role in Operation Enduring Freedom, serving as mission commander for a formation of B-2s during the opening stages of the war on terrorism.

"Major Deaile's mission was significant because he safely led his flight through multiple refuelings, struck targets over Afghanistan, left hostile territory, refueled again, received a target retasking and struck additional emerging targets in Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Eric Theisen, deputy commander of the 509th Operations Group. "This was the first time that a B-2 re-entered the target area to strike new targets." The aircraft he was flying at the time was 82-1066 "Spirit of America"

Two B-2s performed flypasts at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2002 at RAF Fairford during non-stop "Global Power" missions from Whiteman AFB. On Saturday July 20th it was 92-0700 "Spirit of Florida", and on Sunday July 21st it was 89-0128 "Spirit of Nebraska". Both aircraft were escorted by four F-15C Eagles from RAF Lakenheath.

On September 17th 2002 it was announced that the United States had formerly asked the United Kingdom for permission to construct four B-2 Shelter Systems at Diego Garcia.

In December 2002 three B-2s deployed to Hickham AFB, Hawaii. The deployment was part of an initiative to train members of the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron. During their stay on the island, the aircraft dropped inert 500lb bombs on the Pokakuloa Training Area.

The third B-2 built, 82-1068 "Spirit of New York" returned to the skies over Edwards AFB at the end of December 2002, after the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force completed modification work (ongoing since January 2002) needed to bring the aircraft up to the same standard as its operational counterparts. The work focused on refurbishing and upgrading the aircraft's fuel tanks from their pre-production state to full Block 30 configuration.

It was reported on January 10th 2003 that members of the 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron spent more than 70 days at Diego Garcia to erect two portable shelters for the B-2.

The shelters, each about 200m long, provide the environment needed to maintain the stealth characteristics of the B-2. They can withstand extreme temperatures, snow and winds. The shelters also feature a clamshell retractable door and state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air condition and control systems. The total package costs about $2.5 million and can be transported in 29 C-130 Hercules flights. Two more shelters were later erected at Diego Garcia, and one at Fairford.

On February 28th 2003 it was reported that the 509th BW had received orders to deploy four B-2s to Diego Garcia as part of the preparations for possible military action against Iraq.

On March 20th the US Air Force announced that B-2 stealth bombers were deployed at Diego Garcia. Numbers were not disclosed at the time, but four 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron aircraft were based at Diego Garcia under the 40th Air Expeditionary Wing.

B-2s took part in the massive air operations called "shock and awe" against Iraq which were flown on March 21st 2003 at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The strikes marked the beginning of the air campaign portion of the operation. The first missions were flown direct from Whiteman (a 34-hour round trip); later, others were flown from Diego Garcia.

On March 27th 2003 a B-2 dropped two 4700lb GBU-37 deep-penetration weapons on an Iraqi communications facility in Baghdad, completely destroying the building.

On March 29th 2003, for the first time in military history, multiple B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52H Stratofortress long-range bombers targeted the same geographical area at the same time as part of a single strike package. After launching from separate bases, the bombers simultaneously struck leadership and command and control targets of the Iraqi regime in Baghdad using precision munitions.

The first female pilot to fly a B-2 combat mission, Capt. Jennifer Wilson, landed on the runway at Diego Garcia on 1st April 2003 after completing an Operation "Iraqi Freedom" mission. Capt. Wilson, deployed with the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, had previously flown combat operations on B-1Bs during Operation Allied Force in 1999.

It was reported on April 13th 2003 that the B-2s deployed to Diego Garcia had returned to Whiteman AFB following the collapse of the Iraqi regime.

The following B-2s are believed to have flown combat missions during Operation "Iraqi Freedom" : 82-1066 "America", 82-1067 "Arizona", 82-1071 "Mississippi", 88-0329 "Missouri", 90-0040 "Alaska", 93-1085 "Oklahoma", 93-1087 "Pennsylvania" and 93-1088 "Louisiana". This is not an exhaustive list as 12 aircraft are thought to have flown missions. Altogether 43 B-2 missions were flown.

Twenty-seven missions were flown direct from Whiteman, for a total of 975.8 hours (an average of 36.1 hours per mission). The aircraft dropped 230 GBU-31(V)1 and 97 GBU-31(V)3 JDAMs, 11 GBU-37 GAMs and 80 Mk 82 iron bombs. Sixteen missions were flown from Diego Garcia for 270.5 hours (average duration 16.9 hours). Aircraft operating from Diego Garcia dropped 217 GBU-31(V)1s, 39 GBU-31(V)3s, and two GBU-37s.

Restoration of the "Spirit of Missouri" took place on July 10th 2003 in the low-observable maintenance facility at Whiteman. It marked a new era in structural maintenance for the B-2 because the work was done on base rather than at Palmdale.

B-2 92-0700 "Spirit of Florida" performed two flybys at RAF Fairford/RIAT on Global Power missions. On July 19th 2003 it performed a flyby at RAF Fairford, recovered to Mildenhall, performed another flyby on July 20th and then returned to Whiteman.

In an effort to increase the B-2's operational capability, the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB conducted an airborne release of 80 Joint Direct Attack Munitions Separation Test Vehicles (inert weapons used to collect data) on August 6th 2003. The B-2 used in this test was 82-1068 "New York".

The overall objective of the program is to integrate the Smart Bomb Release Assembly (SBRA) and JDAM-82 (a 500-pound smart bomb) into the B-2. This improved capability will allow the B-2 to carry 80 JDAMs. The brains of the SBRA are the Smart Bomb Rack Controller and the Stores Management Operational Flight Program. This allows the weapons to be released at specific intervals.

On August 14th 2003 a B-2 operated by the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force dropped two live 5000lb GBU-28B/B GPS/INS-guided deep-penetration bombs over the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB. During the test, the B-2 used something called Auto Global Postioning Satellite-Aided Targetting, or AGAT, to update and refine target information to send to the weapon. The GBU-28

Following on from the August 6th drop of JDAM STVs, "Spirit of New York" dropped 80 inert JDAM-82s (GBU-38s) over the Utah Test and Training Range on September 10th 2003. All eighty munitions were dropped in a 22 second pass.

On September 17th 2003 B-2s 93-1086 "Spirit of Kitty Hawk" and 89-0129 "Spirit of Georgia" from the 325th Bomb Squadron arrived at Andersen AFB to take part in "Coronet Dragon 49", an exercise to test their deployment capabilities and the ability of crews and support teams to operate from a forward location. About 100 personnel deployed from Whiteman AFB.

In October 2003 Lt Col Rich Vanderburgh became the first pilot to reach 1500 hours in the B-2. He reached this milestone while flying a 4-hour training sortie in 90-0041 "Spirit of Hawaii". This was quite an achievement given the limited number of B-2s in the inventory, and its short service history. Col Vanderburgh was one of the original operational pilot cadre selected to fly the B-2 from Whiteman. He flew combat missions during Operation "Allied Force" in 1999 (during which he surpassed the 1000-hour mark flying 82-1067 "Spirit of Arizona") and Operation "Iraqi Freedom" in 2003. During the latter he was forced to return from a combat mission over Iraq on three engines, after one failed in flight.

The B-2 Post Delivery Change Incorporation Program (PDCI) was completed on September 5th 2003 with the installation of modified exhaust lips on 82-1067 "Spirit of Arizona". The program incorporated modifications to bring the aircraft to full operational capability, and corrected deficiences identified during flight test and production. Since 1998 the PDCI team have completed 392 individual aircraft modifications. These had to be fitted in during routine maintenance periods and when operational commitments permitted.

A B-2 was inducted into the US Air Force Museum's collection on December 16th 2003 - but it was the program's ground-based test article, which had been used for stress testing, which was unveiled. The airframe had been disassembled at Palmdale and flown to Dayton, in an operation which required seven C-5 Galaxy flights, and it took three years to reassemble. The restoration staff had to use ingenuity to reassemble the aircraft without special tools and had to fabricate parts to replace security-sensitive components. During the ceremony the aircraft was named "Spirit of Freedom".

December 17th 2003, as well as marking the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight, was also the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first B-2, 88-0329 "Spirit of Missouri", at Whiteman AFB. At a ceremony to mark the latter event, Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, 8th Air Force commander, announced that the B-2 Spirit had officially reached full operational capability. Achieving this status is the ultimate milestone in the development of any new weapon system, signifying fulfillment of the original requirements for the equipment. The event was marked by the Spirit of Missouri's re-enactment of its arrival on December 17th 1993.

Northrop Grumman announced on April 19th 2004 that it had successfully applied a specially formulated coating developed to help improve the B-2 stealth bomber's combat readiness to an operational aircraft for the first time. Known as alternate high-frequency material (AHFM), the radar-absorbing coating was developed for application to the aircraft surface in areas where regular maintenance is performed. The B-2's stealth characteristics require a smooth outer surface without any gaps that could reflect radar energy and reveal its position to the enemy.

In the original B-2 design, specially formulated tapes and caulks were used to cover gaps on the surface such as those near maintenance access panels. These materials have to be removed each time maintenance is performed, then reapplied and allowed to cure before the aircraft can be returned to service. AHFM replaces approximately 3,000 feet of tape, which helps reduce maintenance time in those areas from several days to several hours.

B-2 93-1086 "Spirit of Kitty Hawk" performed two flypasts at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2004 at RAF Fairford. On Saturday July 17th the aircraft flew a 20-hour Global Power misson from Whiteman and back as "Death 53". The following day the same aircraft, with a different crew, flew the same mission as "Death 63". On both occasions the aircraft was escorted by four F-15E Eagles from RAF Lakenheath.

The 509th BW took part in exercise "Coronet Bugle 49" at Andersen AFB from July 13th-20th 2004. While deployed for the exercise, airmen from the Wing supported several long-duration sorties, which originated at Whiteman and landed at Andersen for a crew change before returning. Crews flew 20-hour missions and B-2 engines ran for more than 40 hours, while the aircraft spent minimal time on the ground.

On November 22nd 2004 two B-2s flew 23-hour roundtrip missions from Whiteman AFB to support a two-day exercise called "Resultant Fury". This involved a variety of aircraft striking maritime and ground targets in the Pacific.

On December 10th 2004 two climate-controlled permanent hangars specifically designed for the B-2 were unveiled at RAF Fairford, seven months ahead of schedule. The new 50,000-square-foot facilities allow specialized low-observable maintenance to be performed on the B-2. LO maintenance is essential to maintaining the specialized coatings that cover the aircraft’s composite and metal skin. Applying these coatings, and ensuring they cure correctly, must be done in a climate-controlled environment.

"Staging the B-2 closer to potential theater engagement areas will provide a deterrent to adversaries of the United States", said Lt. Col. Tom Bussiere, 325th Bomb Squadron commander. "The completion of the B-2 shelter is a step in the right direction in making RAF Fairford a fully operational B-2 forward operating base".

In December 2004 the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force at Edwards linked up with an E-3 from Tinker AFB to conduct Link-16 integration demonstration tests on a B-2. Eleven sorties were flown during the tests.

In early March 2005 two B-2s, 88-0329 "Missouri" and 93-1085 "Oklahoma", deployed to Guam for the first time to support Pacific Command’s security efforts in the Western Pacific.

More than 270 Airmen from the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB. The unit replaced the 93rd EBS from Barksdale AFB.

On April 21st 2005 an unidentified B-2 (callsign "Fury 11") made two passes over the Holbeach bombing range in eastern England on a non-stop Global Power mission from Whiteman AFB.

On April 29th 2005 the 393rd Bomb Squadron successfully completed the first B-2 Air Expeditionary Force rotation, which had lasted 60 days. More than 240 Airmen from the 393rd Bomb, 509th Operations Support, 509th Aircraft Maintenance, 509th Maintenance, 509th Munitions, 509th Maintenance Support and 509th Communication squadrons returned to Whiteman from Andersen AFB. They were replaced by the 325th BS, who were scheduled to stay for 120 days.

During this deployment the 393rd flew 52 sorties totaling 396 hours while using an average of only two B-2s.

On June 9th 2005 Royal Air Force pilot Flt Lt David Arthurton became the first non-American to fly the B-2. Flt Lt Arthurton flew the "Spirit of Pennsylvania" for about 1,700 miles during the 4.5-hour flight. Previously, Flt Lt Arthurton flew the Tornado GR.4, and clocked up 25 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

During its first two months at Andersen, the 325th EBS scheduled 67 sorties. 78% of scheduled flight activities were completed. The rest were cancelled owing to weather or maintenance issues. Fourteen global power/long duration sorties were flown during the second quarter of 2005.

On August 22nd 2005 a hangar capable of housing two B-2s was unveiled at Andersen AFB. The $32.8 million facility can withstand 170 mph typhoons and major earthquakes. The concrete and steel hangar is cooled by an 800-ton air conditioning unit.

The deployment of B-2s on Guam was concluded at the end of August 2005. During the 6-month deployment over 100 B-2 combat training missions were flown, including 13 Global Power missions.

The 13th Bomb Squadron "Grim Reapers" was activated at Whiteman AFB on 23rd September 2005, taking over the assets of the 325th Bomb Squadron. The 325th became the 325th Weapons Squadron on the same day.

On September 26th 2005 Col. Rob Wheeler, 509th Operations Group commander, and 1st Lt Jason Ellis, 393rd Bomb Squadron, flew the final FY05 B-2 sortie that reached the 509th BW's goal of 6,072.9 hours for the year.

The 393rd BS displayed a B-2 at the Dubai air show in November 2005 as part of a round-the-world mission. Two aircraft, flown by Capts. Justin Amann and Brian McKay, and Lt. Col. William Eldridge and Capt. Kevin Minor, first flew to Diego Garcia. On the day of the show, both aircraft took off and air-refueled over the Indian Ocean. One aircraft continued onwards to Dubai, where it collected an escort of two USAF F-15s and then performed a single pass over the air show at 1,000 feet. The other B-2 returned to Diego Gargia.

Following the air show, the two B-2s flew east over the Pacific Ocean to complete their around-the-world trip, returning to Whiteman on November 25th.

A pair of B-2s were in UK airspace on December 16th, bombing targets on the RAF Wainfleet range. After hooking up with tankers from the 351st ARS over the North Sea they returned to the USA. Presumably this was another non-stop Global Power mission. Call signs were "Spirit 13" and "Spirit 14"; the latter was 82-1071 "Spirit of Mississippi".

In January 2006 a B-2 successfully delivered a live GBU-28C/B bomb with a new BLU-122 warhead, destroying the target on the Utah Test and Training Range. The 5,000-pound GBU-28C/B is a follow-on to the EGBU-28B/B that was successfully integrated on the B-2 in 2003. Improvements to the GBU-28C/B allow it to penetrate deeper into the ground.

Two B-2s arrived at RAF Fairford on March 22nd 2006: 90-0040 'Spirit of Alaska' as "ZETA 11" and 93-1085 'Spirit of Oklahoma' as "ZETA 12". They are not known to have flown any missions while in the UK, and they departed on March 24th.

in April 2006 it was annouced that B-2 maintenance times had been significantly reduced by the introduction of Alternate High Frequency Material (AHFM) to replace tape covering access panel gaps and fasteners on the aircraft. AHFM exposes the gaps and fasteners for easy removal and replacement of access panels, without requiring any material restoration. Maintenance actions previously requiring a week of aircraft downtime for repair can be done in as little as 30 minutes on AHFM-configured aircraft.

At least two B-2s arrived at Andersen AFB on April 30th 2006, to replace B-1B Lancers as part of the continuous bomber rotation in the Pacific region.

During June 2006 B-2s from the 393rd EBS at Andersen AFB participated in exercises "Valiant Shield" and "Northern Edge", during which B-2 aircrews executed long-duration missions and integrated with aircraft they don’t normally see on the range.

"Northern Edge", which ran from June 5th to 16th, was hosted by Alaskan Command, and its purpose was to prepare joint forces to cope with a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region. The B-2s were tasked with multiple roles during their mission. These included striking multiple dynamic targets, whose co-ordinates were received from the Kenney Headquarters Pacific Air Operations Center at Hickham AFB, Hawaii, shortly before entering Alaska, and these targets included simulated surface-to-air missile sites and simulated enemy troop movements.

Exercise "Northern Edge" required pilots to complete a sortie at a training range approximately 4,500 nautical miles away in Alaska, resulting in a 9,800 nautical-mile round trip lasting more than 24 hours. The exercise also brought the Air Force’s two most advanced weapon systems together, as F-22 Raptors from the 27th Fighter Squadron joined B-2s during training missions on the Yukon Training Range near Eielson AFB, Alaska.

Exercise "Valiant Shield", which ran from June 17th to June 23rd, was conducted on and around Guam and was a U.S. Pacific Command exercise which focused on integrated joint training and interoperability among U.S. military forces while responding to a range of mission scenarios.

On July 27th 2006 a B-2 landed in Australia for the first time (during exercise "Green Lightning"), to carry out an engine running crew change at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. One of the two pilots who flew the B-2 back to Andersen AFB was Squadron Leader David Arthurton RAF, who was assigned to the 13th Bomb Squadron as part of a UK-USA exchange program.

"Squadron Leader Arthurton has been a key contributor to the 13th Bomb Squadron" said Lt. Col. Bill Eldridge, commander. "One of his jobs is to oversee our long range scheduling, one of the toughest jobs in the squadron. In this role, he also oversaw several exercises, including deployments to the United Kingdom, Red Flag and the 13th EBS' recent trip to Australia. His contributions have been fundamental to the squadron's success."

In June 2006 the B-2 fleet exceeded Air Combat Command's fully mission capable rate standard of 51 percent, a feat not achieved since September 2004.

For a B-2 to be fully mission capable, or FMC, it must be capable of successfully completing its intended mission of striking an enemy without being detected by radar. The criteria used to determine the FMC rate of an aircraft is known as the minimum essential subsystem listing, or MESL. The MESL is a detailed list of every subsystem that must be operational in order to determine the FMC rate of the aircraft. Due in part to the aircraft's unique abilities, ACC recently changed the MESL criteria for the B-2 to more accurately reflect its low-observable status.

In addition to the policy change for deriving MESL criteria, Airmen of the 509th MXS and Aircraft Maintenance Squadron also improved their maintenance practices. During the past 18 months, Whiteman has received four aircraft with a new outer coating known as alternate high frequency materials, or AHFM. A B-2 with the new coating has surface panels that can be removed and reinstalled with a minimal amount of the low-observable coating needing restoration.

A B-2 in need of any low-observable maintenance without this new configuration would require several hours, or days, of down time due largely in part to the cure times of the chemicals associated with the repair. The new configuration allows the maintenance crews to prepare aircraft in a shorter time.

After more than 140 sorties and 330 released weapons, B-2 Spirit aircraft, pilots, maintainers and support staff from the 509th Bomb Wing started returning home from Andersen AFB at the end of August 2006.

Aircraft and personnel from the 393rd and 13th Bomb Squadrons and 509th Maintenance Group at Whiteman AFB were deployed to Andersen as part of Operation "Ocean Fury", the objective of which was to promote regional security and preserve regional stability while providing U.S. Pacific Command with a continuous bomber presence in the region.

Airmen from the two bomb squadrons each completed approximately two months at Andersen so each squadron had the opportunity to fly training sorties here. The B-2 maintainers and other support personnel, such as life support and communications, fulfilled a four-month deployment.

On September 9th 2006 B-2 93-1087 visited Lambert Air National Guard Base at St. Louis, Missouri. It gave the Missouri Guardsmen from the 131st Fighter Wing an opportunity to see the aircraft up close before the Missouri ANG and active duty units pair up as a B-2 unit at Whiteman AFB.

On September 10th 2006 a B-2 flew over Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., just before before the New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills football game.

On March 14th 2007 Northrop Grumman was given approval to proceed with development of a new satellite communication system for the B-2 that will eventually allow the aircraft to send and receive battlefield information up to 100 times faster than today.

The first increment of the program will replace the B-2's current flight management computers with a single, integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration. The next increment will give the aircraft the ability to send and receive information at EHF frequencies, while the final increment will fully integrate the new EHF communications capabilities into the aircraft's controls and displays.

Lockheed Martin announced on August 7th 2007 that it had received a $23 million contract from Northrop Grumman to support the upgrade of satellite communication (SATCOM) systems used by the B-2. As part of the program's system development and demonstration phase, Lockheed Martin will replace the B-2's current flight management computers with a new subsystem.

The SATCOM upgrade will also allow the B-2 to connect easily to the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid (GIG), a worldwide network of information systems, processes and personnel involved in collecting, storing, managing and disseminating information on demand to warfighters, policy makers and military support personnel.

Four B-2s from the 393rd Bomb Squadron arrived at Andersen AFB, Guam, on October 7th 2007 to maintain the continuous USAF bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Col. Garrett Harencak, 509th Bomb Wing commander, completed his first B-2 sortie in the "Spirit of Texas" on November 9th 2007. The five and half hour training mission started in Palmdale, Calif., and went over Las Vegas, Nev., Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the Air Force Academy, Colo., and consisted of an air refueling and two "touch and go" landings before coming to a halt in front of Whiteman Base Operations.

On December 18th 2007 two B-2s took off from Andersen AFB on an exercise to hit a target in Alaska when one bomber was diverted to a global power sortie. It was re-tasked to Hawaii and was sent new target information to facilitate coordinated weapons releases with ground parties at Pohakuloa Training Range. Both bombers later hit their intended targets nearly simultaneously.

Also on December 18th, a team of weapons specialists loaded a mockup of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) into the bomb bay of a simulated B-2 at Whiteman AFB. The MOP is approximately 20.5 feet long, with a 31.5-inch diameter and a total weight of slightly less than 30,000lb (13.6 tons). The weapon will carry over 5,300lb (2.4 tons) of explosive material and will deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the BLU-109. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding. The B-2 will be able to carry two MOPs, one in each weapons bay.

On January 17th 2008 B-2s from the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed to Guam took off from Andersen AFB to fly a "Polar Lightning" global power mission to Alaska. Since deploying to Andersen on October 5th 2007, the 393rd EBS has successfully completed two "Polar Lightning" sorties as well as five additional global power missions.

Under a one-year, $9.33 million contract, Northrop Grumman began in February 2008 to prepare the B-2 to carry and deploy small, precision-guided weapons such as the 250-pound class Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II). The company's work is focused on upgrading the aircraft's current display and weapon interfaces to accommodate this class of weapons.

Implementing the Moving Target Kill (MTK) capability requires upgrading the B-2's current analog, multi-function cockpit displays and qualifying several of its radar modes to perform the MTK function. Under the current contract, Northrop Grumman is developing and testing a brassboard version of the replacement displays in a laboratory environment. The new systems will be able to display both analog and digital data.

Northrop Grumman has also started planning for the required installation of the Universal Armament Interface (UAI) on the B-2. The UAI is a new "plug and play"-like interface developed by the Air Force to reduce the time and costs required to integrate precision guided weapons on airborne platforms. It standardizes the physical connections and communications protocols used to pass information between an aircraft and the on-board weapons stores. Full implementation of the UAI will also require upgrading the B-2's display control processor and its stores management processor.

On February 23rd 2008 at 10:45am local time, B-2 89-0127 "Spirit of Kansas" crashed shortly after taking off from Andersen AFB, Guam. The aircraft rolled uncontrollably to the right before crashing between the ramp and the taxiway. Both pilots, aircraft commander Capt. Justin Grieve and pilot Maj. Ryan Link, managed to eject successfully after the aircraft's left wing had scraped the ground. Grieve was hospitalised with a broken back at a naval hospital in Guam (later transfered to Honolulu), while Link was released after a medical evaluation. The aircraft was one of four B-2s which were leaving Guam after their four-month stay. One aircraft had already taken off but was brought back. Spirit of Kansas had accumulated 5176 flight hours in 1036 sorties at the time of the crash.

The Andersen AFB fire department responded in less than five minutes, but the aircraft was full of fuel and the fire reached a temperature of 2000 degrees. After six hours, 83000 gallons of water and 2500 gallons of foam, the fire was out but the aircraft was completely destroyed.

In the history of aviation, there has never been an aircraft with a safety record like the B-2. In almost 20 years the fleet has logged more than 14,000 sorties, 100 combat sorties and 75,000 flying hours without a single Class A mishap, until the February 23rd incident.

The commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, temporarily suspended flying operations for all 20 remaining B-2s to review procedures. Harencak termed the suspension a "safety pause" and stated that the B-2s would resume flying if called upon for immediate operations. However, a month on from the crash, no B-2 had left the ground.

After a 53-day "safety pause", B-2s resumed flying on April 15th 2008 when 92-0700 Spirit of Florida, crewed by Col. Tom Bussiere, the 509th Operations Group commander, and Maj. Rich Collins, the 394th Combat Training Squadron operations officer, took to the Missouri sky. Although the accident investigation board had not completed its report, Air Force and Air Combat Command maintenance and safety experts gave the 509th Bomb Wing the green light to fly.

The report on the crash of 89-0127 was released on June 5th 2008. It concluded that distorted data introduced by the aircraft's air data system was ultimately responsible for causing the accident. Moisture in the aircraft's Port Transducer Units during air data calibration distorted the information in the bomber's air data system, causing the flight control computers to calculate an inaccurate airspeed and a negative angle of attack upon takeoff. According to the report, this caused "an uncommanded 30 degree nose-high pitch-up on takeoff, causing the aircraft to stall and subsequently crash."

Moisture in the PTUs, inaccurate airspeed, a negative AOA calculation and low altitude/low airspeed were substantially contributing factors to the accident. Another substantially contributing factor was the ineffective communication of critical information regarding a suggested technique of turning on pitot heat in order to remove moisture from the PTUs prior to performing an air data calibration. The timeline seems to have been:

09:29: During a preflight check, the pilot notices three air data sensors are malfunctioning. Unknown to the crew, water in the sensors is causing false readings.
09:34: A ground crewman, using a cockpit keyboard, recalibrates the three waterlogged sensors. The preflight checks continue, and the B-2 taxis to runway 06 Right.
10:29: Before takeoff, the pilot turns on the sensors’ heaters. The water evaporates; the readings are now normal, but the earlier fix skews air-pressure data too low.
10:30:12: The B-2 begins its take-off. The on-board flight computer displays the wrong airspeed, causing the pilot to lift off at 133 kt rather than the required 145 kt.
10:30:50: The flight computer, relying on bad air-pressure readings, concludes the aircraft is in a nose-low altitude and automatically raises the nose to 30 degrees.
10:31:06: The B-2, going too slowly, with its nose angled too high, stalls. As the airplane’s wing scrapes the runway, the pilot and commander safely eject.

Two B-2s arrived at RAF Fairford on August 12th 2008. They were 82-1067 as 'Reaper 11' and 89-0128 as 'Reaper 12'. They stayed until August 17th.

More than 250 Airmen and four B-2 Spirits, deployed from the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman AFB, began arriving at Andersen AFB on February 23rd 2009, to replace the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and its B-52 Stratofortresses. 89-0128 Spirit of Nebraska and 89-0129 Spirit of Georgia were two of the deployed B-2s.

On March 12th 2009 airmen aboard a B-2 Spirit tested their endurance in a 24-hour, 8,000-mile Polar Lightning mission to Alaska and back to Guam. During the exercise, a B-2 Spirit aircrew flew for 11 hours to Alaska. After arriving at the Alaskan Range, the bomber dropped more than 6,000 pounds of ordnance during two hours of range time, then returned to Andersen AFB.

On May 15th 2009 it was reported that two B-2 crews assigned to the 13th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron completed a 24-hour "Polar Lightning" training mission after flying a 10,000-mile roundtrip flight from Andersen AFB to Alaska. The B-2s flew to the Alaska Range Complex where they dropped 20 inert JDAMS. They then took part in the large-force portion of the exercise with F-22s providing escort to the B-2s into an area defended by Red Air and surface-to-air missiles.

he 20th anniversary of the B-2's first flight occurred on July 17th 2009. The anniversary event at Palmdale included remarks by Col. James Dawkins, USAF, Commander, 509th Operations Group; Bruce Hinds, Northrop Grumman's former chief test pilot who piloted 82-1066 on its first flight; and Gary W. Ervin, president of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. B-2 82-1068 "Spirit of New York" carried out a flypast as part of a training flight.

On August 7th 2009 Global Strike Command was officially activated at Barksdale AFB, bringing all USAF nuclear units under one command for the first time since 1991. The 509th BW came under the control of GSC on February 1st 2010.

On January 26th 2010 B-2 93-1087 Spirit of Pennsylvania was redelivered to the 509th BW after undergoing programmed depot maintenance at Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, California. The aircraft was the the first B-2 to be painted with the insignia of the newly formed Global Strike Command.

In mid-February 2010 four B-2s and 270 personnel from the 393rd BS deployed to Andersen AFB, replacing B-52 Stratofortresses deployed from the 20th Bomb Squadron.

On February 26th 2010 a B-2 deployed to Andersen AFB experienced what was described as a minor engine fire during a routine engine start at approximately 0700 (Guam local day & time). The fire was quickly extinguished by assigned maintenance, ground crew and fire department personnel.

Three B-2s (82-1071, 93-1087 and 93-1088) launched a mission from Whiteman AFB on March 20th 2011 as part of Operation Oddysey Dawn, the implementation of UNSCR Resolution 1973 to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. The B-2s followed the initial attack with Tomahawk cruise missiles, and targetted Libyan airfields and air defences. Among the targets was the Libyan Air Force base in Ghardabiya, where fighter aircraft were believed to be parked in hardened shelters. Some 90 shelters were located on this base, each accommodating a single fighter plane (most likely Su-22 or MiG-23). The B-2s targeted these shelters with JDAM GPS guided concrete penetration bombs. Many shelters were hit and partly destroyed.

On October 27th 2011 a B-2 (probably 82-1068) flew an 18-hour mission from Edwards AFB to the North Pole and back, before releasing four unguided BDU-38 bombs over the precision impact range at Edwards. This was to meet the main mission objective: to make sure that the aircraft knew where it was and that it could get to a weapons release point. Two KC-135s supported the B-2 on this mission.

B-2 82-1068 "Spirit of New York" arrived at RAF Fairford on July 6th 2012 to appear in the static display at the Air Tattoo. The last time a B-2 appeared at RIAT was in 2004, and that was only a fly-by. The last time that a B-2 appeared in the static display at RIAT was in 1999.