The Stealth Takes Wing

But its price and uncertain role may shoot the B-2 down

The B-2 Stealth bomber is designed to be virtually undetectable by enemy radar, but never in history was an aircraft's first flight more visible. Before scores of television cameras and thousands of spectators, the bat- shaped flying wing lifted into the sunrise at Palmdale, Calif., last week for a 106-minute, slow-speed, wheels-down flight.

But even at the moment of its apparent success, the technologically revolutionary bomber faced a threat to its existence, not from hostile radar and missiles but from a newly skeptical Congress that has become increasingly alarmed over the plane's horrendous cost. By the Air Force's own calculations, each...

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