has announced that a new coating, specially designed to increase operational
readiness of B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, has been applied successfully.
The B-2 coating is responsible along with the aircraft shape and other features
for avoiding radar wave reflections and maintaining the aircraft low signature
against radar detection systems. The new coating was applied at
Northrop-Grumman's Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center using a robotic paint
The coating radar-absorbing material is known as the Alternate High Frequency
Material, AHFM, was developed by Northrop-Grumman. The original B-2 design
called for special tapes and caulks to cover the airframe avoiding gaps on the
surface to reflect radar waves. The tapes and caulks were removed each time the
B-2 suffered maintenance and replaced with new tapes and caulks lasting several
days before the aircraft could return to fly. The new coating allows to perform
the same maintenance work in several hours.
A single B-2 Spirit bomber requires approximately 3,000-ft (915 meters) of tapes
for each maintenance process. The new robot coating technique will increase US
Air Force B-2 fleet availability.
The first AHFM-equipped B-2 is scheduled to be delivered to the US Air Force
later this year following the aircraft maintenance period. Northrop-Grumman and
the US Air Force are working on a series of enhancements to the B-2 that will
help the aircraft to better accommodate to network centric warfare and 21st
century warfare scenarios. These enhancements include an improved communications
system, the smart-bomb rack assembly carrying up to 80 smart-bombs, an
electronically scanned array radar antenna, etc.
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