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OT II

Into combat

An Air Force maintenance crew services a B-2 at Andersen AFB, Guam, 2004

The B-2 has seen service in four campaigns. Its combat debut was during the Kosovo War in 1999. It was responsible for destroying 33% of selected Serbian bombing targets in the first eight weeks of U.S. involvement in the War.[6] During this war, B-2s flew non-stop to Kosovo from their home base in Missouri and back.[6] The B-2 was the first aircraft to deploy GPS satellite guided JDAM "smart bombs" in combat use in Kosovo.[62]

B-2 Spirit.ogv Play video B-2 Spirit U.S. Air Force video

The B-2 has been used to drop bombs on Afghanistan in support of the Operation Enduring Freedom. With the support of aerial refueling, the B-2 flew one of its longest missions to date from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri to Afghanistan and back.[6]

The B-2's combat use preceded a U.S. Air Force declaration of "full operational capability" in December 2003.[6] The Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation 2003 Annual Report noted that the B-2's serviceability for Fiscal Year 2003 was still inadequate, mainly due to the maintainability of the B-2's low observable coatings. The evaluation also noted that the Defensive Avionics suite also had shortcomings with "pop-up threats".[6]

During the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom), B-2s operated from Diego Garcia and an undisclosed "forward operating location". Other sorties in Iraq have launched from Whiteman AFB.[6] This resulted in missions lasting over 30 hours and one mission of over 50 hours. "Forward operating locations" have been previously designated as Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and RAF Fairford in the UK, where new climate controlled hangars have been constructed. B-2s have conducted 27 sorties from Whiteman AFB and 22 sorties from a forward operating location, releasing more than 1.5 million pounds of munitions,[6] including 583 JDAM "smart bombs" in 2003.[63]

All B-2s, nuclear-capable B-52s, and nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles have shifted to the nuclear-focused Air Force Global Strike Command set up in September 2009.[64][65]

In March 2011, B-2s were the first US aircraft into action in Operation Odyssey Dawn, the UN mandated enforcement of the Libyan no-fly zone. Three B-2s dropped 40 bombs on a Libyan airfield in support of the UN no-fly zone.[66]


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