The B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy penetration strategic bomber featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses.
Originally designed for use in the cold war, the B-2 became active in later military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The first versions cost 737 million dollars, rising to 929 million dollars as retrofitting and adjustments were made.
Ultimately, the cost per aircraft weighed in at 2.1 billion dollars per aircraft as the B-2 was perfected in 1997.
Here are the reasons why the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber cost $2 billion
So the Defense Authorization Act and Congress authorized 20 B-2’s for $44.65 Billion, or 2.2 Billion each. That’s equivalent to $36 from each individual taxpayer for each plane or $720 per taxpayer for the entire program.
The B-2 planes themselves cost 8 times their weight in gold to buy and operate.
The project has been controversial from the get-go, owing to the astronomical cost. The B2s number just 20 now in service, with the United States air force planning to operate the B-2 until 2032.
An impressive weapon of war, the B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet, with a range of more than 6,000 miles on internal fuel, and over 10,000 nautical miles with one mid-air refueling. It has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
Although nobody is really at liberty to say why the planes cost so much, one theory is that the B2 is just such a royal pain in the behind to maintain due to a flaw in the surface coating material.
The radar-reflecting material used on the B-2 is highly hydrophilic, meaning it takes on and absorbs water readily as the plane flies. Air friction during flight causes the surface of the B-2 to heat up, meaning the water that’s absorbed into the stealth material simply boils away, blistering the material. As the surface material erodes, the B-2 is less stealth-like.
After every flight, these blisters have to be repaired, meaning that not only does the B-2 cost a ton upfront, but the maintenance bill is also substantial. This theory itself though has a flaw – could the B-2 really fly so fast that the surface material heats up to the boiling point? Whether this theory is true or not, experts all agree that the paint used to coat the B-2 costs a huge sum, and the general overhauling, which must take place once every seven years, costs 60 million per aircraft.