Northrop Grumman, Air Force Verify Proper Fit of Massive Penetrator Weapon On B-2 Bomber
WHITEMAN AFB, Mo., July 21, 2009 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has moved the U.S. Air Force a critical step closer to being able to drop a 30,000 pound penetrator weapon from the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
On April 28, an Air Force team, a Northrop Grumman-led aircraft contractor team and a Boeing-led weapon contractor team verified that the equipment required to integrate the new Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) on the B-2 -- the hardware that holds the MOP inside the weapons bay, the weapon itself, and the hardware used by the aircrew to command and release the weapon -- will fit together properly inside the aircraft.
Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long-range strike arsenal. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is the prime contractor for the MOP, and a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman on the B-2 MOP integration effort.
"This fit check represents a significant step in identifying and mitigating technical risks associated with integrating the MOP onto the B-2," said Col. Kevin Harms, USAF, Commander, 702nd Aeronautical Systems Group.
Dave Mazur, vice president and B-2 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector agreed. "The things we learned by doing this test will help us execute any future B-2 MOP integration program in a faster, more cost-effective manner."
The government/contractor team conducted the fit check at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., the operational home of the B-2 fleet, using the B-2 Weapons Load Trainer -- a device that simulates the interior size and shape of the aircraft's weapons bays -- and a high fidelity mock-up of the MOP. The trainer allows 509th Bomb Wing personnel to practice loading B-2 weapons without taking an aircraft out of service.
The MOP is a GPS-guided weapon containing more than 5,300 pounds of conventional explosives inside a 20.5-foot long bomb body of hardened steel. It is designed to penetrate dirt, rock and reinforced concrete to reach enemy bunker or tunnel installations. The B-2 will be capable of carrying two MOPs, one in each weapons bay.
The B-2 currently carries up to 40,000 pounds of conventional ordnance. For example, it can deliver 80 independently targeted 500-lb class bombs from its smart bomb rack assembly; or up to 16 2,000-lb class weapons from its rotary launcher.
Integration of the MOP on the B-2 is the latest in a series of modernization programs that Northrop Grumman and its subcontractors have undertaken with the Air Force to ensure that the aircraft remains fully capable against evolving threats.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is one of the most survivable aircraft in the world. It remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deeply into protected airspace. In concert with the Air Force's air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force's tanker fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 helps ensure an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world. It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
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