Release No: 147-97
April 01, 1997
B-2 REACHES INITIAL OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY
The U.S. Air Force's newest bomber, the B-2 Spirit, reached
its Initial Operational Capability (IOC) today.
General Richard E. Hawley, commander of Air Combat Command,
made the announcement based on the 509th Bomb Wing's demonstrated
ability to operate, maintain and support the bomber in the
performance of its nuclear and conventional missions worldwide.
This is a significant milestone in ensuring the future of
national defense, Hawley said.
The B-2's combination of low
observability, large payload capacity, bombing accuracy and long
range gives America a unique, unprecedented military capability.
This combination allows the B-2 to penetrate sophisticated
defenses and threaten an enemy's war-making capability.
the United States the capability to project power to any part of
the globe within a matter of hours and deliver combat power with
precision in support of warfighting commands, Hawley said.
Today, our nation's deterrent force has been enhanced
This is a high-leverage weapon system, said
General Eugene E. Habiger, commander in chief of U.S. Strategic
The B-2, in concert with our total bomber force and
our land- and sea-based ballistic missiles, sends a powerful
message to would-be aggressors.
The B-2's ability to evade radar
and carry a heavy payload, coupled with the fact that it can
launch from the United States and quickly reach any point in the
world, make it an invaluable military asset.
The IOC comes after highly successful tests of the Joint
Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), and an interim weapon with similar
capability called the GPS-Aided Munition (GAM).
three B-2s destroyed 16 targets using 16 GAMs from an altitude
above 40,000 feet.
Last month a B-2 released two inert JDAMs,
marking the beginning of that weapon system's integration on the
As the B-2 Spirit meets its Initial Operational Capability
and is available across the entire spectrum of conflict, it is
appropriate to acknowledge each member of the U.S. Air Force/B-2
industry team whose skill and determination have given our
country the most advanced, most potent military aircraft ever
produced, said Kent Kresa, chairman, president and CEO of
Northrop Grumman Corporation.
The women and men of Air Combat
Command and the 509th Bomb Wing deserve special recognition for
their integral role in proving the value of the B-2 in day-to-day
Together with their industry colleagues, they have
made America safer today because of this extraordinary
contribution to our national defense.
Thirteen B-2s have been delivered to the 509th Bomb Wing at
Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
A total of 21 aircraft will be
delivered by the year 2000.
All B-2s will be assigned to the
509th Bomb Wing.
Each B-2 can carry up to 16 GAMs or JDAMs.
These 2,000 pound
bombs have the capability to strike within 20 feet of a target.
In the past the Air Force measured how many aircraft would be
needed to destroy a single target and now, the Air Force can look
at how many targets it can destroy with a single aircraft, Gen.
Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, said recently.
The B-2 Spirit is an integral part of the U.S. Air Force's
bomber force, which also includes the B-1B Lancer and the B-52H
Together, this bomber fleet gives the nation the
capability to rapidly respond to crises anywhere in the world
with tremendous lethality, at minimal risk to American lives.
This revolutionary advance in technology will help to ensure
our national security well into the next century, Hawley said.