In the middle of the 1980s, during the Reagan years, the Air Force planned on buying 132 of the aircraft. That number was later reduced to 75.
When the Soviet Union dissolved a few years later the original cold war mission of the B-2 was effectively eliminated. Under budgetary pressure and Congress opposition president George H.W. Bush limited the number of aircraft to 20. Later Clinton added on more, so 21 were built.
Considering costs for design, development, maintenance and operation, the B-2 program cost $44.75 billion in 1997 dollars, or $2.13 billion per aircraft.
In 1996, the General Accounting Office stated that the B-2 bombers were the most costly bombers to operator on a per aircraft basis, costing more than three times as much as the B-1B. In 1997, every hour of flight of a B-2 required 119 hours of maintenance. This required cost of air-conditioned hangars where they were stationed, each hangar accommodating an aircraft with a wingspan of 172 feet, just so the workers could spend that 119 hours of maintenance in some comfort and to protect the sensitive stealthy properties of the plane.
Maintenance costs are therefore $3.4 million a month for each aircraft.
Meanwhile, one of the $2.13 billion machines crashed in Kansas in 2008, and another was severely damaged in Guam in 2010, but was repaired. The planes contributed in the U.S. military action in Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
With this in mind – do we really want to be hung up about food stamps for our poorest citizens? Where are our values?