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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 304-96
May 24, 1996

AIR FORCE DIRECTS UPGRADE OF B-2 TEST AIRCRAFT TO OPERATIONAL STATUS

Under Secretary of the Air Force Rudy de Leon today signed a letter of transmittal to Northrop Grumman Corporation to upgrade the B-2 flight test vehicle AV-1 to operational status. This follows the recent decision by the Air Force to upgrade AV-1 to an operational aircraft, bringing the operational B-2 fleet to 21 aircraft.

The upgrade includes replacing the landing gear, a new avionics suite and modifications to the aircraft structure, fuel system and weapons bay doors.

The B-2 Spirit is the Air Force's low-observable bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. Its stealth characteristics give it the unique ability to penetrate most air defenses. These stealth characteristics, combined with its long range and large payload, provide a powerful force projection capability.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman said that the B-2, with the addition of a precision conventional weapons capability this summer, will cause us to completely rethink the way we plan attacks -- instead of the number of sorties required to take out one target, our planners will decide the number of targets to take out on one pass.

Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall said: The B-2 embodies global reach/global power -- providing our Commanders in Chief with rapid, global precision response. She added that the aircraft is an extraordinarily powerful tool for this nation.

The letter of transmittal obligates $150 million with a not to exceed value of $493 million. This is a firm fixed price letter contract with an expected contract completion date of June 2000.

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