The world recently observed the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whose political career spanned the cold war years. During that period, the United States developed a number of sophisticated weapons, including strategic bombers designed to carry nuclear weapons. The most advanced of these planes is the B-2 Stealth Bomber. On November 22, 1988 – the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination – Northrop unveiled the B-2 with much fanfare at its Palmdale facility. Our news crew was there to witness the dramatic unveiling as an Air Force band accompanied the plane's rollout.
What makes the B-2 unique is that it's hard for enemy radar to find it. Much of the plane is made of a carbon-graphite material that's stronger than steel. That cloak of invisibility, combined with its bat-like, flying wing design, enables the B-2 to escape most radar detection. Over the years, the plane has had numerous computer and avionics updates, making it one of the most expensive aircraft in aviation at nearly a billion dollars a copy.
By the 1990s the cold war had thawed, and because the B-2 was so expensive, Congress eventually reduced the number of planes on order from 132 to 20. There were more than 20 B-2s built, but some were test planes, and one was destroyed in a crash. Today there are 20 in use, and they've seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Grenada, and the war in Kosovo. Though L.A.'s not at war, the planes have flown over the southland numerous times. In one of the video clips you'll see a Skyfox shot of a B-2 flying over the Tournament of Roses Parade.