Project Proposal

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B-2 Bomber Proposal

The longest combat mission in the history of aviation changed the age of modern warfare.  The world’s stealthiest bomber, the B-2 Spirit, is considered to be one of the greatest achievements in military technology. Designed to avoid detection, it displays numerous unique characteristics and features.  Once considered the most top secret plane, the B-2 was a flying wing aircraft meaning it had no distinct tail or fuselage, reducing the overall radar signature.  In fact, stealth technology has rendered radar systems ineffective by greatly reducing their detection ranges. The question most ask is how has the B-2 Bomber remained the most valuable aircraft within the U.S. military inventory?  This paper will investigate the key components of the nation’s long-range attack arsenal; armed to fly virtually undetected through enemy defense systems, evidence a strategically engineered concept became America’s biggest strike asset.

In 1957, the inception of stealth technology, a sub-discipline of military tactics was created. Otherwise known as LO technology (low observable technology), the concept of stealth technology was to hide or operate without giving enemy forces any indication as to the presence of friendly forces.  The history of stealth dates back to the very end of World War Two. Nazi Germany’s secret weapon was the Horten 229, a futuristic fighter bomber. The unique feature of this aircraft was the absence of the tail – a design that later resembled the flying wing of the B-2.  After the Horton 229 was returned to America for research and development, it appeared less on radar than any other plane. But the futuristic shape has lineage back to the 1940’s with earlier models of the B-35 and B-49.  These closely resembled the 1990s flying wing version.

Stealth technology has rendered radar systems ineffective by greatly reducing the detection range.  Research fundamentals and the general design of stealth aircraft was aimed at reducing radar and thermal detection. The 2013 National Security Archive electronic briefing book #443 exposes American interest in this subject area and probable development of the stealth program, notably the B-2 Spirit.  This primary source reveals there are a numerus of fundamental components that make stealth possible.  One key element was the ability to test the reconnaissance of deployed aircraft to evade radar detection.  The study of this problem was to reduce the radar cross section of aircraft or the overall signature of the aircraft.  Also significant was the examination of primary influences on aircraft signature.  The declassified document explores the findings of those experts in the field occupied with the testing and the impact of those aspects that produce a low-observable vehicle.

General information about the B-2 stealth technology is not far-reaching because it entails an assortment of classified details.  The publication by Bill Holder entitled Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit 1998 highlights the mission requirements for the B-2 Spirit and its expected accomplishments from the perspective of a technological team member.  Also within this publication, the operational development is revealed from the layman’s perspective. The Official United States Air Force Website 2015 Fact Sheet discloses the combat effectiveness of the aircraft.  Moreover, E.E. Basmadjian, author of the book 2003 U.S. Warplanes: The B-2 Spirit explores the configuration of mission planning and general practice involved in flight preparation.

The B-2 was developed in secret and announced to the public on November 22, 1988. However, development was completed as the Cold War with the Soviet Union was ending, and as the Soviet Union collapsed, so demand for such an expensive aircraft dropped significantly. There was a bipartisan effort in Congress to slash the budget for the B-2, which dropped Congress’ order from 132 B-2s to 21 B-2s. While there were heated debates on the merits of the B-2, the fact that it was the most expensive aircraft in history made it unappealing to many in Congress and the general public. 21 were built, and are intended to be kept in service until the 2050s, but the demand for more is outweighed by the criticism of the price.

While the expense of the B-2 became a point of contention, its supporters had a number of points they could defend. While it was expensive, the appeal came from how advanced it was. The development of the B-2 had broader industrial benefits that could be used to develop other technologies. The B-2 would be vital in the event of a nuclear war, as it was capable of launching nuclear missiles but was not as easy a target as a silo. It also had longevity, so the investment of funds was long-term. However, opponents still argued that the funds would be spent in any number of other areas, including investing in emerging technologies, returning the money to the taxpayers, or returning the money to the poor.

The website will reflect our artifact by way of using stealth as its main theme. The U.S. Air Force symbol will be a prominent image in the background of the site, and links will be faded into the background until hovered over or selected. This may make navigation a little tricky for its viewers, but its intention to highlight stealth will ideally take away from the initial shock of having to find pages carefully. Each aspect of the B-2 will have its own page, exploring the bomber’s history, development, significance, and alternatives. The documentary will also have its own tab, so as to be easily accessible to its viewers. Alternatively, the documentary may feature as the front page as a means of grabbing the website visitor’s attention. Finally, there will be an “About” page to introduce the authors of the website as well as a “Bibliography” page for viewers to easily access the website’s sources.

The documentary will be a classic, history-style film based around an interview with an “expert” on the subject. The interview will be staged on a green screen so the image of a hangar can feature in the background. Between shots of the interview, there will be photos and videos (properly sourced and researched) to keep the interest of the viewer going. A voiceover will introduce and conclude the documentary piece, as well as give important information that moves the discussion from one point to the other. The information provided will reflect what one might find within the website, but in an engaging, person-to-person interview style.

The B-2 Bomber is a one of a kind airplane that is different from any American bomber that has preceded it. Technology has allowed it to complete missions in a seemingly impossible situation. This advancement was born out of a nation’s desire for national security and has since developed into one of the most effective pieces of military aviation the United States holds.



B-2 Annotated Bibliography

Argyres, Nicholas S. “The Impact of Information Technology on Coordination: Evidence from the B-2 ‘Stealth’ Bomber.” Organization Science 10, no. 2 (March 1999): 162-180.
This source details information technology and its impact, focusing its discussion specifically on the B-2 Bomber. This will aid in discussing the scientific impacts that this artifact made on other technologies.

Basmadjian, E.E. . U.S. Warplanes: The B-2 Spirit. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group 2003.
This book explains the very basics on the B-2 Spirit and its basic. This source will be used as one of our secondary sources.

Cassata, Donna. “Bomber Faces Rough Budget Flight.” Gainesville Sun, July 18, 1989, 1A, 4A.
This news article describes the test flight of the B2, and cynicism by Congress on its merits. It is a primary source on the B2 budget debate.

Fredriksen, John C. Warbirds: An Illustrated Guide to U.S. Military Aircraft, 1915-2000. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
This book is a guide to military aircraft, written for the average reader to understand. It has helpful details about aircraft like the B2 that will be useful in writing for a general audience as well as getting information that is easy to consume for research. As a book, it will also lead to many other sources through its bibliography. Its illustrations may also come from databases that are available to the public, so it can lead us to open source images for our site as well.

Grant, Rebecca. B-2: The Spirit of Innovation. New York, 2001.
This book has one of a kind declassified from people in US Airforce and the Pentagon. This is a Primary source.

Hansen, Ole Steen. The B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2006.
This book everything on the B-2 from its origins to current operations and facts. Secondary Source.

Harmon, Daniel. Special Ops: Military Intelligence. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2015.
This book explains the importance of the B-2 in special operation missions. This is a secondary source.

Holder, William G. B-2 Spirit. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 1998.
This book explains some more facts on the B-2. This is another secondary source.

Moore, Molly. “Group Urges Cut in ‘Stealth’ Bomber Production.” Washington Post, December 29, 1988, A6.
This news article describes the early criticism of the price of the B2. It is a primary source on the B2 budget debate.

Moore, Molly, and George C. Wilson. “More Funds Sought for B1 and B2: Air Force to Request Billions to Remedy Bombers’ Problems.” Washington Post, May 1, 1989, A1, A4.
This news article describes efforts by Northrop to get funding to improve the B2. It is a primary source on the B2 budget debate.

Pappalardo, Joe. “Beyond the B-2 Bomber.” Popular Mechanics 190, no. 5 (May 2013): 50.
This article is an inside look on what it’s like to be inside a B-2 as well as how significant it is – or should be – to the American public. Its publication date alone shows how important and relevant many still believe the B-2 to be. Using this will help drive the point home that it is a culturally significant artifact in American history as both a piece of national security and as a symbol for America’s military strength.

“Raise your Voice.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 60, no. 4 (Jul, 2005): 2-80A, 81A.
This source compiles a series of issues and discussions presented by people writing in. One of these writers addresses the budget for national security and its changes. He cites the B2 as an important investment “because we are willing to invest in national security, and we believe it works.” This demonstrates the continued belief that America is better off with security than putting money elsewhere, especially in the post-9/11 world.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. “The Area 51 File: Secret Aircraft and Soviet MIGs.” The National Security, October 29: 7-8, 20-21, 2013.
This website showed declassified files on the origins of stealth and Area 51. Primary source.

Sweetman, Bill. “Save the B2 Bomber!: Even at $68 Billion, the Stealth Aircraft Is a High-Tech Bargain.” The Washington Post, April 30, 1989, C5.
This news article defends the merits of the B2, in spite of budget cuts. It is a primary source on the B2 budget debate.

Wilson, George C. “Costly B2 Stealth Bomber To Roll Into Public View: U.S. to Unveil Stealth Bomber, Most Expensive Warplane Yet RADAR EVADERS $60 Billion Price Tag Put On B2 Fleet U.S. Taking Wraps Off.” Washington Post, November 20, 1988, A1, A8, A9, A10.
This news article announces the unveiling of the B2. It is a primary source on the B2 budget debate.

Test post

B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber
“B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber,”Photo, Starburst Forum: Electrogravitics and Field Propulsion(April 18, 2011), Feb 9,2017,

Introductory Post


When I was a child, I had a toy version of the B2 Stealth Bomber. I’m sure many other children did. This aircraft seems like something out of a comic book. Now, of course, it’s a bit different from Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet, but it’s still an impressive technological artifact. This stealth bomber remains one of the most impressive feats of military technology in US history, and the idea of spending an entire semester researching the development of this technological marvel is exciting. Honestly, I feel like a kid again.

-Nick Skibinski