Electronic Weapons: January 12, 2001


The Air Force is studying two empty bays in the B-2 stealth bomber as possible locations for a new type of weapon. The bays, just outboard of the landing gear, were originally intended to include chemical tanks that would spray a fluid into the exhaust to eliminate contrails. The system was complicated and never worked well, so the Air Force opted instead for a sensor that warns the pilot when the aircraft is leaving contrails, allowing him to shift to a new altitude where contrails are not formed. The bays could have been used for weapons previously, but difficulties in maintaining the stealth coatings while opening and closing the doors have prevented them from use. The plan now is to mount a pair of mini-cruise missiles in these bays. These may be decoys, or jamming missiles that would be targeted on enemy air defense sites.--Stephen V Cole


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