Improvement Program Slashes B-2 Maintenance, Improves Readiness

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Can’t get it up?(click to view full) The $2.2 billion dollar B-2 Spirit stealth bomber has long suffered from a significant problem: maintaining its stealth requires a great deal of ground work involving tape and caulking. Given that stealth is the bomber’s only real defense, flying them in compromised status is not an option. The result was predictable: very low “readiness rates” in the 30-45% range, which meant that the 21 bombers in the USA’s fleet really meant about 7-9 in the air after the initial opening phase of any conflict. The USAF’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate worked with the B-2 Systems Group and material processing experts; and after some initial glitches, they think they may have this problem solved. If so, readiness rates could rise to figures approaching 70-80%. That makes a big difference to a high-value asset. Back in black writes: “Inability to meet stealth requirements is the single greatest driver for the low B-2 readiness rates…Were low-observability requirements not a factor, the plane would remain relatively ready, boasting a rate closer to 80 percent mission-capable… The Air Force is undertaking a B-2 “mission-capable rate improvement plan,” crafted by Northrop Grumman. This will replace the traditional tape […]

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