Stealth B-2A F-111 F-117
For Desert Storm, 22 swing-wing 20th TFW F-111Es were deployed from England to Turkey and 67 48th TFW F-111Fs were based at Taif, Saudi Arabia, on January 17, 1991. The 48th TFW flew 2,417 sorties, dropping 3,650 tons of bombs, including 4,595 LGBs, nearly 80% of those dropped in the war. Pave Tack anti-armor missions used 2,542 GBU-12Bs, while other PGBs, including 2,000-pound GBU-15 infrared glide bombs, hit targets from hardened aircraft shelters to bridges and deep bunkers. No F-111s were lost in combat.
That force also dropped cluster and general purpose bombs, like those used by most of the other USAF aircraft. Twenty-three EF-111A Ravens made over 900 sorties to jam Iraqi radar, with one EF-117A lost.
Down-sizing the Bomber force After the war, the F-117s were transferred to the 49th TFW at Holloman AFB, acquired new GPS navigation gear, and were named Nighthawks in 1994. On May 3, 1994, the last B-52Gs retired to storage, leaving the B-52H in Air Force squadrons. More combat missions would come in the near future for the B-1B, B-52H and the F-117A, as an advanced GPS/inertial navigation system was added.
The last F-111Fs retired from the 27th FW on July 27, 1996, when the USAF finally accepted Aardvark as the official F-111 name. EF-111A Ravens patrolled during operations in the former Yugoslavia and were finally retired from the USAF in May 1998.
Bomber forces would be gradually reduced until 94 B-52, 84 B-1, and 9 B-2 heavy bombers, 500 Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeeper ICBMs, and 332 Trident SLBMs were listed in 1994.
Northrop B-2A Spirit
Radar Absorbent Materials (RAMs) demonstrated on a Northrop Tacit Blue reconnaissance vehicle were included in the composite materials that were 80% of the structure, along with a blended body and flying wing shape, sharp wing edges, and four buried low-noise F-118 non-afterburning engines with special air intakes and exhaust electors. An elaborate ZSR-63ECM system reacts to outside threats.
Production began at Palmdale with six developmental test aircraft, the first flown on July 17, 1989, the second on October 19, 1990, and the last on February 2, 1993. Fifteen production aircraft followed and deliveries to the 393rd BS, 509th BW, at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, began on December 17, 1993. Such a small production run increased the most complicated bomber ever built to a cost of nearly a billion dollars each. An elaborate ground support structure is required so that only Whiteman AFB was suitable for launching missions.
Two crewmen are guided by an astro-inertial navigation system and flight computers control the instability that troubled early flying wings. ALQ-181 radar has 21 operation modes from navigation to target detection, and weighs 2,100 pounds.
Up to 40,000 pounds of weapons are carried in two internal bays. The first 10 production aircraft had 16 gravity bombs like the nuclear B83 or conventional Mk 84. Guided AGM-129 cruise missiles linked to a GPS for continual updating were introduced on the next three, while the last two in 1997 had the definitive Block 30 fit, to which all early aircraft were upgraded. While nuclear stores were no longer carried, 80 M 82 bombs or Mk 36 mines were. The GPS-guided 2,000-pound GBU-32 and 4,700-pound GAM-113 developed for the B-2A provided individual target direction for each weapon.