B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH DEPT OF SYSTEMS AND ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT
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The B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study describes the application of systems engineering during the concept exploration, design, and development of the USAF B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The case examines and explores the systems engineering process as applied by the Air Force B-2 System Program Office, the prime contractor, Northrop, and the two major subcontractors, Boeing and Vought, from the programs genesis in the late 1970s to the first flight of the first aircraft on 17 July 1989 The systems engineering process is traced from a vision of a few planners in 1978 to the production of 21 operational aircraft that are currently serving our nation. Numerous interviews were conducted with the principals who managed and directed the program and a study of the systems engineering process emerged. The B-2 was conceived to profit from the advances in stealth technology that grew from a series of laboratory experiments and design studies during 1970 to 1976. The early work by both the government and industry during this timeframe resulted in feasible and practical stealth vehicles that exist throughout our military. The current operational fleets of fighters, bombers, UAVs, ships, and other stealth vehicles trace their heritage to the early technology maturation and engineering development programs. Stealth or low observables, as it was called by the original practitioners offered a new and revolutionary approach for penetrating the burgeoning growth of the Soviet defensive system of an integrated radar network. The fighter was the first type of weapon system to be studied for the benefits of stealth and the pay-off was assessed as substantial. The bomber was the next obvious candidate, and it too, showed great promise. Lockheed was in the lead for the technology application for fighters and was awarded the development contract for the F-117 stealth fighter.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft