Northrop Grumman will overhaul the US Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber once in nine years, as against the current seven-year cycle, thus reducing maintenance costs by around $900m.
The programmed depot maintenance (PDM), which has averaged more than 400 days in the past, will now be reduced to 365 days.
Also, Northrop will maintain only two jets in PDM at a time instead of three, making more bombers available to the air force.
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems B-2 programme manager Dave Mazur said: "Our success reducing PDM flow days to less than a year stems from an aggressive, on-going effort by Northrop Grumman and the air force to put more B-2s on the nation’s flight line.
"Over the past 22 years of operation, we’ve observed that many of the B-2’s major components are holding up much better than expected.
"As a result, we’re able to extend its maintenance interval without jeopardising its readiness to serve the nation’s global security interests."
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Northrop was awarded a modification contract for maintenance of the aircraft in April this year.
An overhauled B-2 Spirit of Kitty Hawk was delivered in September to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, the aircraft’s only operational base.
Performed at Northrop Grumman’s B-2 Depot and Modification Center in Palmdale, PDM includes a complete restoration of the B-2’s outer surfaces; servicing of its moving parts such as landing gear, control surfaces and ejection seats; and software / hardware upgrades.
The multi-role heavy bomber is capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions, with the ability to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defences.
It can fly 6,000 nautical miles withou refueling and more than 10,000 nautical miles with a single aerial refueling.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector was the prime contractor for the aircraft, responsible for overall system design and integration, while Boeing Military Airplanes, Hughes Radar Systems Group, General Electric Aircraft Engine Group and Vought Aircraft Industries, are the key members.
Image: B-2 Spirit stealth bomber Spirit of Kitty Hawk. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.