Watch a fascinating and informative documentary that profiles one of America's greatest military aircraft: the B-2 stealth bomber. In this segment you'll learn about stealth bombers.
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Male Speaker: Despite its success as the bomber, the B-36 had been conceived in the early days of World War II. By the early 1950s, as jet fighters and missiles began to appear in the sky the B-36 became obsolete. As engineers stripped out the B-36, has complicated defensive gun throttles, Boeing delivered the B-52. The B-52 became the main stay of the US strategic bombing force and continues to be a formidable aircraft today. Powered by A triple jet engines clustered into four parts the B-52 had ample room along its wings for the newly developed cruise missiles. The wings were swept back like a fighter to reduce drag and were so long, they needed landing gear at the tips. Bombing tactics hadn't changed since World War II. Large fleets of heavy bombers flew in high altitude formations to targets. Released weapons as one and return home. Conventional wisdom told military planners that the Soviet Union couldn't engage targets over 50,000 feet altitude not guns would keep the bomber fleet safe. In 1960, the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 spy plane, which had been flying at 70,000 feet. In the event of an all-out war a bomber assault at 50,000 feet was doomed. The answer was to fly low and come in under the radar. Limited by terrain and the horizon, ground-based radar detects incoming aircraft in a cone shape pattern. The higher end aircraft is the farther out the radar can detect it by flying at low altitudes; bombers could delay detection and reach their targets with less resistance. Most US bombers had been designed to penetrate enemy air space at high altitudes and super sonic speeds and were completely mismatched for the task of low level fly. The exception was the B-52. After some minor update it proved to be a very stable low level bombing platform. The new tactics were more successful than high level bombing had been but the lumbering bombers still required massive amounts of support and escort planes to successfully complete their mission. In 1972, the US began the Linebacker II bombing designed to bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, B-52s hammered North Vietnam around the clock for 12 days. The sophistication of soviet supplied air defenses in the north meant that over half of the planes launched during the bombings were support or escort planes. Some planes filled the sky with clouds of aluminum strips called chaff that confused ground radar. Other planes called Wild Weasel intentionally drew fire so that they could respond with special missiles designed to homing on defensive radar and surface to air missile sites. Based on the scale of the North Vietnamese air defenses and the fact that the Soviet Union would certainly employ an even more sophisticated system. Conventional bombing raids against the Soviet Union appeared impossible with the B-52. A new bomber was needed. The Rockwell B-1 Lancer seems to be the answer, designed for supersonic flight at low altitudes. The B-1 was fitted with a special terrain following radar that maps the grounding in front of the plane and lets it fly at less than 100 feet. Although it flew very low and very fast, the B-1 was still susceptible to detection by radar. At the same time as the B-1 was being developed, a small group of scientists were designing a revolutionary aircraft that could not be detected by radar. They called it the Stealth Fighter. The new aircraft could leisurely enter enemy aerospace, drop its payload and exit -- designed on the limited computers of the early 1970s, the F-117s strange shape allows it to deflect radar signals away from targeting systems rendering it extremely difficult to detect. Although it can carry only two smart bombs, the Stealth Fighter proved its effectiveness in the early minutes of the 1991 Gulf war when flights of Stealth Fighters destroyed Iraq's entire command control and missile defense network without being detected or engaged. The next evolution of Stealth was called the advance technology bomber. It incorporated rese
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