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Sneaky, secret bomber shows its face.

Sneaky, secret bomber shows its face

The U.S. Air Force calls this a "reasonably accurate artist's rendition" of the supersecret B-2 "stealth" advanced technology bomber, but doubts persist. After years of shrouding the high-tech plane in secrecy, the Air Force released the drawing because it expects to begin flight tests this fall.

The strange-looking plane marks a return to the "flying wing" design abandoned in the late 1940s. Its relative flatness and absence of a vertical stablizere lessen the plane's radar profile. Experts say the whole craft is probably covered with radar-absorbing materials, and they speculate that its hot jet engines are encased in the wing to limit the emissionof detectable infrared radiation and shield the metal from radar. The plane's underside and jet engine outlets are not shown in the drawing.

An Air Force spokesman says the drawing is "accurate enough to recognize the plane if you saw it flying around," but refuses to say whether any details were omitted. Some experts have questioned the lack of rounded engines on the wings, which would reduce radar reflection, and the April 25 AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY reports the engine inlets are farther back on the wing than depicted. The Air Force has engaged in subterfuge before when unveiling aircraft, most notably by adding a fake propeller to the Bell XP-59 jet fighter in the mid-1940s and retouching photographs of the F-104 Starfighter in the mid-1950s, says Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Head Curator Robert Mikesh. However, an Air Force spokesman says releasing disinformation about the B-2 is "absolutely out of the question."
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Title Annotation:U.S. Air Force releases drawing of B-2 stealth bomber
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 30, 1988
Words:264
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