A US Air Force stealth bomber was once captured on Google maps

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is among the most advanced stealth bombers ever developed. Its unique design is meant to keep its radar signature at a minimum, but that’s not to say the aircraft can’t be caught on camera. That was exactly the case in 2021, when a Reddit user discovered a B-2 had been captured on Google Maps.

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit in flight
Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit flying over Edwards Air Force Base, California, 2003. 

The existence of the image of the B-2 Spirit on Google Maps came to light in late December 2021, when Reddit user Hippowned revealed their discovery on the website. The blurry image of the stealth bomber flying over a field about 50 miles east of Kansas City, Missouri was captured by Google’s satellite cameras.

The exact coordinates were 39°01’18.5”,-93°35’40.5”, and the shades of blue, green and red were the result of the satellite cameras’ process of taking photos, before turning them into a clear image.

Unfortunately, the snaps in question have since been updated on Google Maps and now only show a barren field.

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit flying over a field
Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit caught by Google Maps flying over a field near Kansas City, Missouri.

The B-2 Spirit is based out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, which is just 20 miles north of where the image was taken for Google Maps. There were 21 of the aircraft built between 1987-2000, with the aim of the US Air Force being to design a strategic bomber that also had advanced stealth capabilities and the ability to penetrate even the strongest anti-aircraft defenses.

The B-2 entered service in 1997 and made its combat debut in ’99, during the Kosovo War, and it later saw action in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. It’s slated to be retired in the early 2030s, with the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider slated to be its replacement.

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit parked on the tarmac
Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit parked at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, 2005. (Photo Credit: Bennie J. Davis / USAF / Getty Images)

This wasn’t the only time a B-2 Spirit was caught on Google Maps. In 2022, it emerged that sleuths had come across a second image, this time of a crashed stealth bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base. The incident occurred in September 2021, when the Spirit of Georgia made an emergency landing at the base, going off the runway and landing in the grass.

The $10.1 million crash was later determined to be the result of “microcracking” in the hydraulic connections of the aircraft and faulty landing gear springs.

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