Last Block 20 B-2 leaves Whiteman
Released: 8 Jan 1999
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFPN) -- The Spirit of Oklahoma B-2 stealth bomber recently left here for the Northrop Grumman modification line in Palmdale, Calif.
The stealth bomber is the first Block 20 B-2 delivered and now the last one to be upgraded to Block 30.
Since their arrival, all but two B-2s were sent back for Block 30 modification. The Block 30 modification brings more enhanced avionics, almost twice the number of radar modes, far superior terrain-following abilities and increased survivability. Also, Block 30s are certified for new weapons including the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and are more easily deployed.
The B-2 "blocks" began with a Block 10 initial configuration. The Block 20s had enhanced avionics and low observable characteristics, which improved their survivability and combat effectiveness. On Oct. 8, 1996, three Block 20 B-2s went against 16 targets at the Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., range complex. Sixteen weapons were dropped; 16 targets were hit.
The re-thinking of the employment of long-range heavy bombers came because of the incredible results achieved by those three Block-20 jets loaded with the Global Positioning System-aided targeting system and GPS-aided munitions.
According to Capt. David Miller, 325th Bomb Squadron maintenance officer, the wing will see increased combat capability because Block 30 planes use a dramatically improved self-diagnostic system.
"Our flying mission lives and dies by our ability to quickly and accurately troubleshoot faults. Remarkable improvements in system self-diagnostics empower our technicians to rapidly narrow down the source of faults, identify corrective measures and return the jets to flying status," said Miller.
The number of low observable write-ups has been reduced by a factor of five when comparing Block 30s to the Block 20s, according to Maj. Michael Andress, 509th Maintenance Squadron maintenance supervisor. Other improvements include fine-tuning the aft deck and rudders, and the leading edges of the wing were entirely re-engineered. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)