A B-2 Spirit refuels from a KC-135 during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
(Photo: U.S. Air Force, Val Gempis)
November 10, 2011 defpro.com
Redesign Promises to Reduce Maintenance Costs, Improve Aircraft Availability
PALMDALE, Calif. | Northrop Grumman recently won a $109 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to produce a redesigned aft deck for the B-2 stealth bomber, further enhancing the world's most survivable aircraft.
The B-2 Spirit's aft deck, a metallic panel on the bomber's upper surface that shields its composite airframe from the heat of engine exhaust, will be redesigned for long-term reliability and affordability. The retrofit will enable the aircraft to span normal long-term maintenance cycles without additional services or repairs.
The newly redesigned structure reflects Northrop Grumman's thorough thermal and structural analysis of the aft deck, its adjoining structures and the operating environment.
"Implementing a redesigned aft deck is an important part of guaranteeing the long-term viability of the B-2," said Dave Mazur, Northrop Grumman's vice president of Long Range Strike and B-2 program manager. "We are committed to assisting the Air Force in developing and implementing proactive solutions that are in the best interest of the B-2 fleet."
The aft deck enhancement is the latest spares replacement the Air Force, Northrop Grumman and its suppliers have undertaken to ensure the B-2 remains one of the most survivable weapons systems in the world.
"The B-2 industry team is working closely with the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency to improve aircraft availability," said Gary Roehrig, director and program manager for B-2 Product Support. "This is a complex effort, but it's key to fully equipping the warfighter."
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deeply into protected airspace. In concert with the Air Force's air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force's tanker refueling fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 helps ensure an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world. It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.
Work will be conducted at Northrop Grumman facilities in Palmdale, Calif., and St. Augustine, Fla. Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long range strike arsenal.