Inside the secretive world of B2 Bomber pilots

Originally published at:


I loved the article too, but because I took the opposite from it, oddly enough.

The job sounded utterly boring, frankly. i mean, as flying transcontinental aircraft go, that is. It’s the opposite of “Top Gun” with battles and risk of dying: they managed their ultra-complicated machine through the dicey air refueling and then stayed awake for a completely uneventful flight of many, many hours, hit the buttons when the computer told them to, and went home. A typical day of running a chemical plant that makes nylon from feedstock would be about as pulse-raising.

The really main thing to take from the article is that

a) they weren’t needed; other assets could have done this. They got the go to make SOME frickin’ use of this asset because it’s never been used for much in all its years since Carter. It was a little gift to that unit to give it some relevance for once.

b) the job was to specifically kill one group of Libyan irregulars. (I’ll pick that noun because just about everybody, the ones were at the moment “for” and these that we are at present “against” in Libya, are ALL terrorists by the definitions we use. Certainly, civilians are terrified of anybody with a gun in Libya right now. )

So these bad guys of the moment, about 70 of them, were killed by a number of billion-dollar planes, each of them separately got their own 500-lb bomb, where the bomb alone cost a few hundred thousand; and certainly, per enemy killed, the price was in the millions for this mission. That’s without account for their share in buying the B2 bombers themselves, let’s just write that off.

The story I went home with was that the B2 was always useless for actual defense needs, is still useless, and has been given one “pity mission” that was far, far beneath their capability, just to make them feel better.


NB. Since the photo accompanying the post was taking by an on duty serviceman and released by the USAF, it it a “work of the United States Government,” and not protected by copyright under US law.


Their main job is to drop nukes deep inside Russia if the cold war goes hot. They aren’t “useless”, they just cover an extremely important but unlikely edge case.


Because their natural use would be to perform a first strike, they are worse than useless, they are very dangerous to the safety of the United States and the rest of the world. If you want a credible counter-strike capability, your best bet is ballistic-missile nuclear submarines.


It’s my understanding they’re more for response… placed in the center of the country, low radar so they can’t be shot down - basically a way of supplementing our submarines.

Conversely any sort of “1st strike” would be dumb since Russia also has submarines ready to avenge any stealthy jets.

Personally if I had my druthers we’d make that our primary deterrence, UK style: throw all your $ into submarines and focus on the retaliatory aspect.


bomb alone cost a few hundred thousand

Actually, the GBU-series JDAMs used are a real bargain as such things go: unit cost of a full-up bomb around $30,000. Ca. $25k for the GPS tail kit and associated hardware plus a few thousand total for the iron bomb and smart fuze.


All those expensive eggs in one basket!? That base would be a prime target of an enemy first strike, and the bombers would be utterly destroyed by it. To be a credible deterrent, a fraction of your bombers need to be in the air at any given time. Not the case for the B-2, as far as I know.

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I’m not a warmonger by any means…

“I’m not a racist, but…”


That is oddly specific…

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If you think the stealth on the B-2 is impressive then you should see the kind of tech they have on the still-classified B-3 Bomber.



Alex: “Donny Two-Scoops, the answer is ballistic submarines, heavy bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. What it is your question?”
Drumpf: “…”


These aren’t real weapons. They’re implications. That’s why there aren’t that many of them, and especially why we rarely use them even though we finally have the perpetual war we always wanted.

Unfortunately, the Russians have an implication of their own, in the Perimeter system.


This story was published in the Atlantic because the US government wants people to read this story. It’s a pro-military puff piece.

So ask yourself: why does the US government want you to read this story? And why does the Atlantic wish to cooperate with that?

Particularly in this time and place, is the promotion of militarism a defensible thing?


Posturing aimed at Iran and your choice of counties ending in “-stan”?


Their primary purpose was to transfer funds from hands of US taxpayers to Northrop Grumman Corporation. In this respect they performed marvelously.


When the UK’s nuclear deterrent was airborne (the V-bombers) they never did continuous airborne alert in the same way as the US did. They had aircraft fuelled, armed and ready to be airborne within four minutes (the infamous “four minute warning” of British civil defence films).

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“Because of its composite structure, the B-2 is particularly vulnerable to static discharges and lightning strikes…”


Ferro, “Picking up some hull ionization.”

Spunkmeyer, “I’m on it.”


Obama’s last military outing.

I’ll have to read it later. Pilots in general are pretty super human in some areas. It is why test pilots were chosen as the first astronauts.

I remember reading about the SR-71 and the crazy shit they have to take care of. Like if you have one engine slacking off and the thrust is down, it can make you veer into the USSR if you don’t compensate. And the thing leaked fuel until it got up to speed and the parts heated up and sealed.

And like the F-117 (Which wasn’t a fighter) when they first actually flew the plane for the first time in the last 70s IIRC, it was done at night. That’s a white knuckle event.