B-2 Spirit Can Now Fire 600 Miles Range Stealth Missiles, RATS to Govern Nuclear Bombs

The word stealth, when used in connection with military hardware, has been around ever since the days of the mighty F-117 Nighthawk. The technologies used on that machine have since evolved so much that they’ve expanded to cover more planes and other military piece of equipment as well, including long-range missiles.
B-2 Spirit on the runway 22 photos
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Michael Richmond
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The Spirit dates back to the 1980s and has been modernized several times since. In fact, the plane family, which counts just 20 members at the time of writing, is currently in the middle of such efforts, backed among others by Northrop Grumman.

The defense contractor is the one that announced this week the Spirit’s arsenal is getting enriched, for the first time, with a long-range stealth missile. It’s the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - Extended Range (JASSM-ER) we're talking about, a weapon the bomber successfully fired for the first time back in December, and an achievement we’re only now learning about.

The JASSM-ER is powered by a turbofan engine, and can reach distances of about 1,000 km (621 miles), according to Missile Threat, while keeping track of its target by means of an infrared seeker and even 3D models of it. It’s not easily detectable by enemy radar because of its shape and the materials used to make it.

The successful test back in December means that soon the Spirits will be fielding these missiles as well, although when that will be has not been disclosed. No other details on the test were provided.

Aside from the fitting of the JASSM-ER, the B-2 fleet is also getting as per Northrop Grumman “crypto modernization” and a Radar Aided Targeting System. RATS for short, it should allow “the B-2 to fully employ the B-61 mod 12 nuclear bomb.” The B-61 is America’s main nuclear gravity bomb, with mod 12 being one of the most recent variants of it.
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Editor's note: Main photo and gallery show various B-2s, not the one used for the stealth missile test.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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