Special Report

The B-2 Bomber is the Most Expensive Aircraft in the US Military

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The Defense Department is well known for two things: overseeing by far the largest military budget in the world – and knowing how to waste money. The most expensive aircraft in military history is the B-2 Spirit. Only 21 of the stealth bomber planes were ever built, even though the original plan, in the 1980s, was to build 132. Currently, according to USAF data, the Air Force has 18 B-2s.

The B-2 Spirit was built by several companies working in concert. These included some of the largest defense contractors in the world – Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Hughes Radar Systems Group, and General Electric. The unit cost reached $2.1 billion, which is several times higher than other very expensive military aircraft and over four times greater than the planned cost of $500 million. (These are the 12 stealth planes used by global superpowers.)

The B-2 was built to evade enemy radar – one of its most valuable features. It has been deployed to Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Notably, one crashed in 2008. The balance of the B-2s were grounded for over a month as the Air Force worked to determine the cause. (Also see, 18 of the worst aircraft disasters in military history.)

Expensive aircraft not only cost hundreds of millions (or $2 billion) to build, but their maintenance is expensive as well. In an exclusive about the B-2’s successor, the B-21, the Times reported that the B-2 is called the “hangar queen” because it spends 51 hours in maintenance on the ground, in a temperature-controlled hangar, for each hour of flight. The B-2 also costs $150,741 for each hour of flight.

See 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the most expensive planes in the U.S. Air Force.

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