THURSDAY: Stealth Bomber Ain't Singing in the Rain

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Can't stand the rain? You're not alone. Neither can the B-2 Stealth Bomber. The Air force admitted today that the fleet of famously radar-invisible planes which cost the taxpayer $1.5 billion a pop doesn't like going out when it's wet, because it damages the special radar-absorbing paint. A report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the coating quickly degrades and loses its "invisibility" when exposed to rain or humidity.

The news has prompted questions about the viability of the B-2 which, as opposed to its brother the F-17A fighter-bomber, is a mere bomber. "The B-2 is an expensive cold war plane for a cold war mission," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson, "and they've tried to apply it to a post cold-war world."

But the Air Force described by Thompson as "beyond embarassment" is at pains to point out the plane can still fly non-stop from the United States to any overseas target. That is, anywhere it doesn't rain. Good thing the Iraqi desert is pretty dry.