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November 4, 2016
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May 16, 2000
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November 22, 1988
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PDF icon CIA-RDP96-00789R000300810003-7.pdf289.04 KB
Approved For Release 2000/08/08 : CIA-RDP96-00789R000300810003-7 Air Force Unveils the B2, Its Radar-Evading Stealth Bomber By George C. Wilson MA"',ow" Pin SI,11 Writer PALMDALE, Calif., Nov. 22- With a guard dog standing under each wingtip, the nation's $500 mil- lion Stealth bomber was rolled out of the dark of its top-secret hangar here today into the sunshine of open space for its public unveiling. Shouts and cheers from hundreds of the 2,200 Northrop Corp. work- er&.who built this newest strategic bomber erupted as the hangar doors parted, revealing a F ck and gray radar-evading aircraft that looks like a stingray, "We are not just rolling out America's newest strategic bomb- er," said Air Force Secretary Ed- ward C. Aldridge Jr. "We are ush- ering in a new age of strategic de- terrence." The Air Force secretary said it was "America's enduring hope and prayer that this magnificent aircraft will never fly in anger" but instead will further deter nuclear war be- tween the United States and Soviet Union. Should deterrence fail, the mis- sion of the Stealth bomber is to fly high over the Soviet Union search- ing out and destroying missiles that have not already been fired and knocking out command posts un- touched by retaliatory waves of U.S. missiles fired earlier from land and sea, The bomber, designated the'12 " looked strikingly sleek and small as it stood on a prairie of cement out- side the Air Force factory where it was assembled. Every surface has been smoothed and rounded to slip throdgh rather than reflect radar beams. wfi has a routfd pr - ,_ bT enough to accommodate t ots plus at le or two extra to serve as retie 're, during an exhausting flight from the United States to the Soviet Union and back. The plane rs RtsW by`four jet eilgifds t pods flop the wing, with heavily' mashed air intakes and ex- hausts to reduce detection from radar or heat-seeking sensors. The B2 will fly at. sUft t io speeds, and will need aerial refueling to reach Soviet targets from U.S. bases and ASSOOAIt0 PROS As tow truck and security guards move away, the Air Force's new B2 Stealth bomber sits for its first public pictures at Northrop Corp. plant in Palmdale, Calif. to offer a r pCO6te."9'~it can Hundreds of Northrop security' close in ueteefed, giving defend- police, some leading police dogs, er no time to shoot at it. L,i ' watched reporters and other guests de ment of f`,' ra if can every step of the way as they carry nuclear and conventional mis- moved around the Air Force plant Aff`de- ' here. The bomber, was kept 200 wets to feet away from reporters and same as the secret feature* of the flying I tail- ::.wing's aft end were not revealed. next year to nearby Edwards Air Force Base, where it will be tested, and become operational in the '1990s. The cost of the fleet of 132 bombers ranges from $60 billion to $70 billion, or from $450 million to $500 million a plane. Aldridge said the Air Force will provide detailed B2 cost estimates when it submits should be able to lQpk at the weap- ons of the other hrough on-site inspection, Critics f the B2 con- tend the Air Force crecy imposed on the bomber wilfundercut those arms-control negot tions. Asked here t y whether he would allow the victs to get a close look at the Stealth, Aldridge its fiscal 1990 budget in January. repnea, -rue a let them count it, but The Air Force until today has we're not going to let them get up cloaked the Stealth bomber pro- close to it." If he had his way, said gram in secrecy, Aldridge said the - the secretary, who has announced Air Force decided to reveal what he will leave office soon, the Soviets the B2 looks like because it would would get no closer than the 200- soon be flying anyway, meaning the foot range reporters and guests service would not be able to hide were kept at today, return. Using, i rsQcecLo I ~re >~ 1r1fb~~~ /O at ipcpp~dl~ R~6 9'0E101~DuRly as the space-age m s, t I s arm u8 , Go ter program moves into the early as carbon corpposaes `that absorb down on this countryside of brown - yutukyr nre in times of tension, Un- 1990s. radar energy, the plane is designed desert and sharp hills, ' der this theory, espoused by the The Air Force in the 1960s built Union of Concerned Scientists and others, the Soviets would see U.S. missiles such as the MX as a first- strike threat to Soviet missiles. The B2, which would fly as a mop-up operation after the United States had launched its missiles under this scenario, would attack the mobile missiles that the Soviet Union had held back for a second-strike re- taliatory blow. Aldridge dismissed this argument at a news conference after the cer- emony today, contending that the B2 would put more of the Soviets' warmaking capability at risk and therefore help convince Soviet plan- ners that a nuclear strike on the United States would be a losing proposition. Rep. Beverly 8, B (b-Md.), a member of the' Muse Armed Ser- vices Committee and early backer of the Stealth bomber, agreed with Aldridge that deployment of the B2 would not be destabilizing, but said she was not sure all 132 would have to be built to provide this extra measure of deterrence. She said Congress might decide 50 to 100 132s are enough. "A lot is going to depend on its test program," she said. She said a strategic bomber designated the RS70 to perform the same mission as the B2. President John F. Ken- nedy, after a fierce debate in Con- gress and elsewhere, canceled that version of the B70 bomber in 1962 on the argument that its added de- terrent value was not enough to justify the cost of producing it, Gen, Larry D. Welch, Air Force chief of staff, mindful of the coming budget crunch, said the B2 "com- pletely warrants continued, unwa- vering support ... the overriding purpose of this new bomber is to ensure that we never need employ it.,, The flying wing B2 rolled out today looks :Very slm(ar to the e $ des by the ate sah Northrop t ie_ 1940x.. The Air Force then was enthusiastic about the flying wing, but canceled its order for 30 after one crashed, money became scarce and then-Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington insisted on a merger of aerospace companies, which Northrop op- posed. Thomas V. Jones, chief executive officer of Northrop Corp., today said that Jack Northrop had been briefed on this new version of the flying wing shortly before he died. In closing his speech hailing the B2, Jones said, "Jack Northrop, we sa- lute you,"