A Spirit-filled Polar Flight

A B-2 flew from Edwards AFB, Calif., to the North Pole and back, during an 18-plus hour mission intended to test the aircraft’s computer upgrades, including new communication and navigation equipment. “This is the first time the B-2 has operated at this extreme of latitude before, and [I believe] the longest flight so far for this hardware and this software,” said Maj. Michael Deaver, 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron’s B-2 Extremely High Frequency Test director. After the flight, the B-2 successfully dropped four unguided BDU-38 bombs over the precision impact range at Edwards to ensure the aircraft could get to the weapons release point, according to a release. A KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild AFB, Wash., refueled the B-2 over Alberta, Canada. A second KC-135 from Edwards also provided aerial refueling support. “The warfighter needs to know where they can and can’t go. Essentially, we’ve proven the fact that they can get up into those [high] latitudes safely and effectively. That previously was a question mark,” said Maj. Andrew Murphy, a B-2 experimental test pilot assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron.