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Northrop Grumman completes B-2 bomber maintenance

By Ryan Maass
Northrop Grumman completes B-2 bomber maintenance
B-2 Spirit stealth bomber Spirit of Kitty Hawk lifts off from U.S. Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, Calif. on Sept. 23 for its delivery flight to Whiteman Air Force Base. Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman.

PALMDALE, Calif., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman announced it has completed its maintenance contract for the U.S. Air Force's fleet of B-2 stealth bombers.

The maintenance operations came as part of the U.S. Air Force shortened the cycle of programmed depot maintenance in an effort to increase the fleet's availability. Company officials reported the completion of program in 359 days.

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"Our success reducing PDM flow days to less than a year stems from an aggressive, on-going effort by Northrop Grumman and the Air Force to put more B-2s on the nation's flight line," Dave Mazur, vice president and B-2 program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems said in a statement. "We've worked closely with our customers to improve their B-2 parts acquisition process, while also reviewing critically and streamlining every aspect of our own PDM processes."

The initial contract between Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force was signed in April 2015. As the prime contractor for the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, Northrop Grumman has been scheduled to perform its maintenance program, known as programmed depot maintenance once every seven years. Under new contract modifications and an effort to speed up the aircraft's readiness, B-2's will undergo the process once every nine years instead.

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The B-2 Spirit is a multi-role bomber able to deliver both conventional and nuclear munitions. The aircraft are known for their low observability as a result of reduced infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, and radar signatures.

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