Warplanes: December 24, 2003


Although the American B-2 bomber has been in service for ten years, and has flown combat missions in three wars (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq) it only reached "full operational capability" this month. This means that the B-2 can perform all the functions that it was designed to do. There have been nearly 400 modifications made to the aircraft, both structural and in its computer software. A lot of electronic, and some mechanical, equipment was not ready when the B-2 entered service in 1993, and the specifications for some of that equipment changed over the last decade. Many of the changes had to do with the stealth features of the aircraft, and the addition of equipment and software to handle new GPS smart bombs. There were also many unofficial modifications made that contributed to the aircraft's effectiveness. One of the more notable of these was the discovery  the buying a ten dollar chaise lounge at Wal-Mart allows the pilots to take turns sleeping on 30 hour missions.


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