B-2 Gets New Improved Coating


Released on Monday, April 19, 2004
United States of America
B-2A Spirit
AHFM - Alternate High Frequency Material
Northrop-Grumman 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 system.

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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