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As we go to press, pork dealers on Capitol Hill are locked in a titanicstruggle over the future apportionment of $27 billion. That is the estimatedlifetime cost of the nine B-2 bombers that Stealth partisans want the Congressto commit to in next year’s spending bills with an initial tranche of $331million.
This is a difficult moment for proponents of what is assuredly the greatestboondoggle of all time to be dipping their hands in the till. The normallyspineless GAO recently sat up in bed and reported that the B-2 ($2 billiona copy) can’t fly through a rainstorm without the fancy plastics that makeup the stealth coating on the plane “degrading”.
However, Norm Dicks, the Washington Democrat, and other partisans shouldnot lose hope. CounterPunch can reveal that the B-2 has a secret attributethat makes it absolutely unique in the annals of aerial warfare: it canactually manufacture its own ordnance (bombs) in flight.
This capability, unanticipated by the designers and now classified farabove Top Secret by the Air Force, came to light after a long range testflight over the Pacific last year. Post flight checks revealed an enormousblock of ice weighing 500 lbs had formed inside the aircraft during itsjourney.
The possibilities are awesome. Not only can the bomber re-arm itselfwithout having to touch the ground, but the ice bombs it drops on the enemywill, at least in warm weather operations, inevitably melt into the groundonce they have completed their destructive mission. A Stealth bomb!
Close examination of any modern aircraft will reveal the fuselage tobe pitted with tiny holes, known in the trade as “weeper holes”. These are necessary by dint of the fact that planes inevitably absorb moistureas they go up and down in flight. The holes are to allow the water to drainout again and not accumulate inside the hull. The essence of a stealthaircraft skin however is that it be absolutely smooth, with no breaks inthe surface — ie, no weeper holes. Thus water goes in, but has no wayout. The plane ascends to high altitude. The water freezes.
There is, unfortunately, one obstacle to be overcome before the stealthbomb can be made fully operational: there is as yet no way of ensuring preciselywhere the ice will form. Thus, when the plane landed after the above mentionedPacific flight, the ice had already begun to melt. The water was drippingdirectly into the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of avionics (electricalsystems) stuffed into the plane, with predictable results.
Discussing the issue, a senior Pentagon official and friend of Counterpunchsupplied the only word applicable to the entire B-2 program: “Fiasco.”The only problem is that the word fiasco is becoming grossly overused inrelation to the Air Force’s stealth program given the mid-air distentigrationof a Northrup built F-117A at an east coast air show on Sept. 14, 1998.CP