The Northrop Grumman's B-2 Spirit (also known as the Flying Wing or more commonly as the stealth bomber) is an American heavy bomber with "low observable" stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. Because of its considerable capital and operations costs, the project was controversial in Congress and among Pentagon brass. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Congress slashed initial plans to purchase 132 bombers to just 21.
The cost of each aircraft averaged US$737 million in 1997 dollars. Total procurement costs averaged US$929 million per aircraft, which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support. The total program cost, which includes development, engineering and testing, averaged US$2.1 billion per aircraft (in 1997 dollars).
Twenty B-2s are operated by the United States Air Force. Though originally designed in the 1980s for Cold War operations scenarios, B-2s have been used in combat to drop bombs on Serbia during the Kosovo - Serbia Conflict in the late 1990s, and see continued use during the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One aircraft (The Spirit of Kansas") was lost when it crashed on take off in 2008. The cause of the crash was condensation build-up in the aircraft's flight computer; that caused to malfunction. Both crew members ejected safely.
The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to 80 x 500 lb (230 kg) -class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or 16 x 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs in a single pass through extremely dense anti-aircraft defenses. The B-2 is the only aircraft that can carry large air to surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration. The program has been the subject of espionage and counter-espionages activity. The B-2 has been a prominent public spectacle at air shows since the 1990s. The beauty of it is that the plane's stealth registration gives enough radar return as a seagull, and a whole formation of these birds shows up on radar as a flock of seagulls. Not bad for a plane the size of a football field.