Program costs rose throughout development. Designed and manufactured by Northrop, later Northrop Grumman, the cost of each aircraft averaged US$737 million (in 1997 dollars). “Total procurement costs averaged $929 million per aircraft”[1], which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support.  The total program cost including development, engineering, and testing averaged $2.1 billion per aircraft in 1997.  Because of its considerable capital and operating costs, the project was controversial in the U.S. Congress and among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[1] (Holder 1998)

B-2 in flight
Richard Sisk, digital,, accessed April 24, 2017,
Bobbie Garcia, B-2 Spirit, 2015, digital, United States Air Force, accessed March 16, 2017,
Bobbie Garcia, B-2 Spirit, 2015, digital, United States Air Force, accessed March 16, 2017,

Despite the controversy, the budget was accepted rather widely as an important cost in ensuring national security. This sentiment helped lead the nation toward a sense of security at all costs, which was only strengthened by the Cold War.[2] The costs for preventing attacks on American soil was worth it to the public. Still, there were reservations in terms of its initial estimated cost of $70 billion, especially by Congress. One publication that argued against the B-2’s program called it “a sinister gray and black manta ray,” highlighting its continued need for such a large budget despite the government’s attempt at cutting back military programs.[3] These two articles, coming from similar times but different views, show the developing discussion regarding the B-2’s funding. This remained its highest point of controversy, although little else prevented the development and use of the B-2. Military necessity and national security beat all doubts in the public eye.

[2] Bill Sweetman, “Save the B2 Bomber!: Even at $68 Billion, the Stealth Aircraft Is a High-Tech Bargain,” The Washington Post, April 30, 1989, C5.

[3] Colin Norman, “Stealth Bomber: Evading Flak over Cost, Mission,” Science 242, 4884 (Dec 9, 1988): 1372.


Written by Daryl and Lindsey, partially posted by Nick.