A Northrop B-2 Spirit is arriving in the UK next week to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo. It will be the first time that the infamous Stealth Bomber has been seen in public in the UK for eight years and represents a massive coup for this huge airshow -one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The B-2 Spirit will be positioned in the static display, giving visitors an extremely rare chance to see this elusive aircraft, famed both for its radar-evading capabilities and the role it's played in numerous conflicts since being pressed into USAF service in the late 1990s.
In order to get to RIAT 2012, the B-2 Spirit will journey 5,000 miles from its home base - Missouri's Whiteman AFB - before carrying out the same transit several days later.
The B-2 Spirit was unveiled to a fascinated world in 1988, making its first flight a year later. A strategic bomber, it's one element of the USAF's Global Strike Command that also includes the venerable Boeing B-52H Stratofortress and a number of ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) designs.
USAF B-2 Spirits spearheaded the US military's involvement in 2011's Operation Odyssey Dawn - the UN-approved airpower sorties over Libya. They've also participated in the Kosovo War, Operation Enduring Freedom and the War in Iraq.
The Northrop B-2 Spirit has a top speed of just under Mach 1 and can carry 50,000 pounds of weapons in two internal bomb bays. Its multi-faceted design, slim exhaust nozzles and other features are all designed to give it the smallest possible radar screen presence.
Stealth Bomber UK Visit
"The B-2 is high on the list of people's must-see aircraft because of its distinctive and mysterious, sleek shape and the fact it rarely appears at airshows outside of the USA", RIAT's chief executive, Tim Prince, explained in a press release on the Stealth Bomber's UK visit.
"Anyone who has seen it will tell you what an incredible looking aircraft it is. It's simply unique."
RIAT 2012 takes place between 7-8 July at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
B-2 Spirit image copyright USAF