Humidity and the B-2, in hindsight


Now we know: the humidity of Guam is not merely unpleasant for transplanted, mainland Americans, but actually fatal for $1.4 billion stealth bombers (yet, thankfully, not their crews).

I checked the literature, and perhaps we all should have paid more attention to this paragraph in a General Accounting Office report, dated August 1997.

Testing indicated that B-2s are also sensitive to extreme climates, water, and humidity — exposure to water or moisture can damage some of the low-observable enhancing surfaces on the aircraft. Further, exposure to water or moisture that causes water to accumulate in aircraft compartments, ducts, and valves can cause systems to malfunction. If accumulated water freezes, it can take up to 24 hours to thaw and drain. Air Force officials said it is unlikely that the aircraft’s sensitivity to moisture and climates or the need for controlled environments to fix low-observability problems will ever be fully resolved, even with improved materials and repair processes. Therefore, if B-2s are to be deployed, some form of aircraft sheltering at a forward operating location will likely become a requirement in the future.


One Response to Humidity and the B-2, in hindsight

  1. ELP 10 June, 2008 at 12:58 am #

    Great catch.

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