Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force are continuing enhancements to the B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber fleet providing new capability, including its first long-range stealth missile. The B-2 Spirit’s successful release of a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) during a flight test in December could pave the way for the stealth bomber to one day carry the powerful cruise missiles in combat.
The Air Standoff Missile enhances the B-2 Spirit‘s ability to hit any target, anywhere. The integration of JASSM-ER enables the delivery of a low observation asset capable of traveling greater distances than its predecessor.
The JASSM-ER is one of the three new advanced capabilities being introduced to the B-2 to further modernize the platform. The B-2 fleet, capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear ordnance, is also integrating crypto modernization and a Radar Aided Targeting System (RATS). The latest system advancements are part of integrated functional capability (IFC) P6.4, which was certified last year by the Air Force. RATS will complete the latest phase of nuclear modernization of the B-2 Spirit.
The integration of RATS allows the B-2 to fully employ the B-61 mod 12 nuclear bomb. RATS is the key element of nuclear modernization, as GPS may not be available during a bomber task force mission.
“The unrivaled capabilities of the B-2 make it the only long-range, penetrating stealth bomber currently in the U.S. arsenal,” said Shaugnessy Reynolds, vice president, and B-2 program manager, Northrop Grumman. “Committed to the continued modernization of the B-2, we’re leveraging our company’s innovation in digital engineering and its decades of leadership in designing and maintaining low observable platforms to keep the B-2 Spirit mission ready.”
The successful release of B-2 marked the culmination of a series of five flight tests at Palmdale, California, that took place from August through December 2021. The bomber took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, near Palmdale.
Crypto modernization further improves the communications security of various high-frequency transmissions. The B-2may now securely utilize advanced communication devices in the future threat environment.