The blur is a visible condensation cloud that often occurs close to the speed of the sound barrier as the B-2 Spirit bomber breaks the sound barrier during a flight over California.
It looks like a fish out of water – but this airborne killing machine is right at home as it soars above the Californian desert. This amazing picture is of a U.S. military Stealth Bomber quite literally building up steam as it approaches the sound barrier.
It was released to coincide with the announcement of upgraded military software for the fleet and shows the B-2 reaching a high subsonic speed during a flight over Palmdale, near Los Angeles.
The Stealth Bomber’s ultra-streamlined modern design ensures there is only a minimal shockwave as the pilot accelerates beyond the speed of sound.
The cloud effect is caused by a vapour cone also known as the ‘Prandtl-Glauert singularity’.
It appears when there is a sudden drop in air pressure around aircraft travelling just above or below the speed of sound.
These condensation clouds, also known as ‘shock collars’ are frequently seen during space shuttle launches but their precise nature is still under debate.
The B-2, officially known as the Spirit Bomber, can travel as high as 50,000ft and weighs 153,700lbs without a payload.
The aircraft is central to America’s air warfare capabilities and is the flagship of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal, with the ability to unleash conventional and nuclear weapons.
The U.S. possesses about 20 B-2 heavy bombers, some of which have seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
U.S. defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation revealed today it would install upgraded software in the B-2 bombers’ flight management system.
The B-2 owes its stealth capabilities to its unusual design
A statement from technology group Semantic Designs, which designed the software, said the project ‘will enhance and extend the lifetime of the B-2’.
‘Although the B-2 is the Air Force’s newest bomber, its computers and processors require upgrade to keep up with integration efforts,’ the company said.
‘Expanded and more reliable systems are necessary to maintain the B-2’s leading edge combat capabilities.’
The B-2’s unusual design and use of composite materials means it is difficult to be detected by enemy radar – hence the name ‘Stealth Bomber’.
Via Daily Mail