Other upgrades include the Long Range Stand-Off weapon, long range nuclear cruise missiles, like the B-61 Mod 12, and the so-called defensive management system (DMS), to provide pilots with knowledge of the location of enemy anti-aircraft defense posts.
“With necessary upgrades, the B-2 can perform its mission regardless of location, return to base safely, and permit freedom of movement for follow-on forces, including other long range strike platforms,” Air Force Captain Michael Hertzog said.
The DMS upgrade is “necessary” to maintain the B-2’s threat credibility, Hertzog added.
Rearming the B-2 with upgraded capabilities is crucial, as the next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) will not begin flight-tests until the mid-2020s, according to the Congressional Research Service. “Air Force and aerospace industry experts insist that with sufficient funding for sustainment and modernization over their expected lifetimes, all three of the existing bombers [the B-52, B-1, and B-2] can physically last and continue to remain credible weapons systems,” report author Jeremiah Gertler wrote. The Air Force has lengthened the operational life of B-2s until 2058, Gertler added.
A US Air Force pilot told Scout Warrior that the B-2 is the “smoothest” aircraft the pilot had ever flown. The stealthy airship was designed to fly at some 50,000 feet altitude to thwart enemy air defense systems for other aircraft assets to swoop in, Scout’s Kris Osborn said. The B-2 is capable of flying for 44 hours without refueling. The service currently maintains 16 combat-ready B-2s, according to the Congressional Research Service.