Maintenance of the world’s most expensive bomber Secret: $ 60 million overhaul of a need
B-2 is the world’s manufacturing and use one of the most expensive military aircraft
U.S. B-2 stealth bomber is not only not cheap, especially in maintenance also “squeamish”, process complexity far beyond people’s imagination
newspaper freelance writer Liu Yafang
the world to create and use one of the most expensive military aircraft, the U.S. B-2 stealth bomber is not only not cheap, especially in maintenance also “squeamish”, process complexity far beyond people’s imagination. United States, “Los Angeles Times” 11 carried an article on the B-2 work a regular overhaul Secret.
a repair cost millions of dollars
at Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, California, a factory, is called high-tech crystal of B-2 bomber is being renovated and re-sprayed with a special anti-radar coating. Necessary to overhaul the aircraft once every seven years, lasted one year at a cost of $ 60 million. In accordance with procedures, hundreds of workers need to remove the aging of the coating, remove the skin and airborne equipment, so that the whole plane only a framework, and other new good spray coating, and then reassembled. Technical staff will check the coat inch by inch, not sparing any small scratches. This is because any defects are likely to weaken a little bit B-2 stealth proud, it exposed the deeds and even face extinction.
revealed few words from the military point of view, because of this very special coating and maintenance technicians can not simply scrape it, but must be similar to wheat starch with a special cleaning agent slowly erased. Spraying robot for the first time, the technicians hand-polished surface of the fuselage, so the new coating to achieve the appropriate thickness, the error can not exceed thousandths of an inch (1 inch=25.4 mm). Meanwhile, the aircraft’s electronic equipment, radar and computers should also be standardized replacement.
as B-2′s anti-radar coating is very sensitive to the environment, overhaul work only in specific temperature to hangar, hangar and a special filter holes, so that dust can not hide . In actual combat, this coating can be like a sponge to absorb radar waves, even though B-2 Boeing 747 aircraft with a wingspan equivalent, but on the radar screen, it appears that only the reflected signal tennis so much. The chemical composition of the coating, but it is absolutely confidential.
article said, B-2 bomber is a military science and technology since the atomic age, the greatest achievements. Considering the huge body, shaped like a bat across the front of the guy to cover, sneak behind enemy lines to destroy high value targets accurately, in times of peace the maintenance of its enormous cost is worth it. However, the cost of each overhaul is extremely impressive, with the taxpayer can not be open to the public in order to supervise the military mission of 33 officers to guide this work.
even suppliers have been kept in the dark
U.S. Air Force currently has 19 B-2 bombers in service, cost $ 2.1 billion per aircraft, Many parts are unique. Last year, the Air Force spent over $ 800 million for the maintenance of these aircraft. All told, each B-2 aircraft flying in the sky for an hour, we must stay on the ground 50-60 hours for maintenance. Thus, many critics called the B-2 “gold-plated handicrafts” that it is not practical under the current environment, especially the low level of technology can not cope with the enemy. However, the Pentagon insisted that the U.S. needs to maintain its aircraft in the world of military deterrence. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had declared in February this year, the Air Force in the next 20 years will not be equipped with the new bomber, in other words, B-2 in the future for a long time to come, will remain the most dependent on U.S. models.
despite 20 years of service, B-2 The aircraft is still very mysterious. U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman carefully concealed secret even the most subtle, most suppliers do not know what they are for the B-2 services. Government also set up some “puppet company”, they come from the spare parts, then there is no sign of the truck in the middle of the night secretly shipped to repair sites. Palmdale’s repair facility is also very strict security outside the barbed wire around the five mainframe libraries are equipped with card-type security door. Employees must be wearing special yellow vest, and can not be left alone, even if it was also escorted to the bathroom. Some sensitive areas, only those who pass the FBI authorized to enter.
first B-2 aircraft was produced in 1988, the last one off the assembly line until 1997. No matter how high the cost, production and maintenance of the aircraft is indeed to create tens of thousands of jobs, perhaps, it would be a contribution to the U.S. economy.