Here's what's in the cockpit of one of America's most secretive weapons — the B-2 stealth bomber

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ ScalfA B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, conducts aerial refuelling near Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam, Hawaii, during an interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. The aircraft are flying in support of a U.S. Strategic Command Bomber Task Force mission.
  • The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is one of America’s most secretive weapons, but this week, for the first time in the three-decade history of the program, the US Air Force gave viewers a first look inside.
  • A video filmed by civilian journalist Jeff Bolton and published by Defence News offers an exclusive peak at the cockpit.
  • The 509th Bomb Wing and a B-2 pilot talked to Business Insider about what’s in the cockpit, what it’s for, and why it matters.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The B-2 Spirit bomber is one of America’s most secretive weapons, but this week, we got an awesome first look inside this powerful weapon of war.

The US Air Force recently allowed civilian journalist Jeff Bolton to record a B-2 bomber in flight from inside the cockpit. Defence News published the exclusive video Monday, allowing viewers to see inside the aircraft for the first time in the bomber’s 30-year history.

Read More:
New video offers a first-ever look inside the cockpit of the legendary B-2 stealth bomber

B-2 cockpitScreenshot/Defence News/YouTubeInside the cockpit of a B-2A Spirit with the 509th Bomb Wing

The footage is fascinating but short on details, so Business Insider reached out to the 509th Bomb Wing and a B-2 pilot for more information on what can be seen in the cockpit.

The displays and equipment seen in the cockpit help pilots slip past strong defences to strike enemy targets.

Screenshot/Defence News/YouTubeInside a B-2 cockpit

The B-2 cockpit is filled with various multi-functional displays that allow aircrews to monitor operations, as well as quickly spot malfunctions or out-of-tolerance readings.

“The displays and equipment shown in the Defence News are the integrated communication, propulsion, flight control and navigation systems,” a spokesman from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri told BI.

“The displays and equipment,” he said, “are used by our pilots to deliver precise weapons effects in highly defended airspace. … These systems aid the 509th Bomb Wing to use the B-2 to execute nuclear options and global strike for the United States.”

The powerful stealth aircraft is piloted by a two-man crew, which has to keep a close eye on the various instruments in flight.

Screenshot/Defence News/YouTubeInside a B-2 cockpit. The CIDS provides a redundant display of the Vertical Situation Display and basic engine operating parameters should their respective primaries fail.

The video released Monday shows the B-2 refuelling in air, a capability that extends the reach of these deadly aircraft.

The B-2 Spirit, an aircraft with a unique flying wing design, is a key part of America’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Crewed by a two-man team, the aircraft’s low-observable or stealth features give it an almost undetectable radar signature, making it nearly invisible and able to penetrate sophisticated enemy defences to strike targets with a variety of armaments, both conventional or nuclear.

Some instruments are more important than others though.

Screenshot/Defence News/YouTubeInside a B-2 cockpit

We asked a B-2 bomber pilot what the most important display is, and the answer was the Vertical Situation Display (VSD).

“The B-2 is the smoothest ride in the sky with a capable autopilot,” the pilot explained, telling BI that younger pilots sometimes forget about flying the aircraft when they have their heads down performing other tasks. “The VSD gives the pilot all the info they need to regain situational awareness and fly the jet.”

When it comes to priorities in flight, they are aviate, navigate, and communicate – in that order. The VSD consolidates all the standard flight instruments into a single display. It’s aircraft orientation (attitude), altitude, airspeed, heading, and angle of attack all on a single screen.

The Horizontal Situation Display (HSD) is also pretty important, though, as it not only shows the route, but it also allows B-2 pilots to keep an eye on friendly and enemy aircraft nearby, as well as relevant radar information.

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