The B2 is worth more than its weight in gold WAS 1929 deja vu

From: John Clark (
Date: Fri Apr 28 2000 - 13:33:06 MDT

Michael should love this post, I'm picking up bad habits and quoting up the wazoo.

>I wrote:
>a B1 bomber [I should have said say B2] that is quite literally worth more than its weight in gold.

>>Michael S. Lorrey <> responds:
>>the B-2 bomber (which is a stealth bomber) costs around $800 million [...] A B-2 bomber weighs
>>over 400,000 lb. which equals 6.4 million ounces. An ounce of gold goes for around $250-300, which
>>makes the weight of the B-2 in gold equal to about $1.6-1.95 billion, so no, the B-2 is decidedly
>>NOT worth its weight in gold,

>The cost per airplane is about 2 billion, but the military can get very creative with
>their accounting when they want good PR, you could probably get a $800 million
>figure if you ignored the huge R&D bill (mostly D), but as there are no plans to build
>any more of these white elephants that doesn't seem like good accounting practice to me.

>Michael :
>I don't know where you are getting this figure, as the $800 million
>figure was one calculated by the opponents of the B-2 to make it look as
>expensive as possible (even though that figure includes lots of stuff
>other than just the airplane). I imagine you are cooking this up in
>order to win the argument, as you seem to be acting very stubbornly
>obtuse in this thread.

OK I admit it, you seemed so confident, so certain that you made me doubt myself.
The "worth its weight in gold" line didn't seem the sort of thing I would make up but I
couldn't remember where I got the idea. Is it possible, is it even conceivable
that John Clark could actually be wrong about something? Well I just checked
and although I thought I might be wrong it turns out I was mistaken, I'm right again.

The book "The B2 Spirit" by Walter J Boyne (an Aviation Week Editor) was
published just last month, it's clearly pro B2 and yet in the introduction I find this:

"With all the R&D costs now allocated to just 21 aircraft the unit cost has risen
drastically to the point opponents now call each aircraft -not just the program- a
2 billion dollar blunder".

I also find that the B2 does not weigh over 400,000 lb as Michael said, the empty weight
is only 125,000 lb and even at maximum takeoff weight it's only 336,500 lb. So when I
said the B2 was literally worth its weight in gold I was not engaging in hyperbolae I was
actually being too conservative, even if you count a full load of fuel and bombs and crew.
As I said the military mind is not concerned with cost. Oh well, at least we have the stealth bra.

    John K Clark

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