On Thursday, the builder, Northrop Grumman Corp., celebrated the 25th anniversary of its maiden flight over the Mojave Desert on July 17, 1989.
The bombers were built at Northrop's 45-acre complex in Palmdale behind razor-wire fences.
Many suppliers had no idea they were making parts for the bomber. The government created dummy companies that ordered the parts, which were often picked up in the middle of the night by unmarked trucks.
The task of keeping the B-2 flying has been a boon to Southern California and Northrop. Every seven years, the planes fly into the facility for a year-long, $60-million overhaul. Last month, the Air Force awarded Northrop a $9.9-billion contract to maintain and upgrade the B-2.
At its height, the B-2 program involved about 40,000 employees at aerospace facilities all over the country, including about 15,000 in the Southland, Northrop has said. It continues to provide work to about 1,200 people, many of them at Northrop's facilities in Palmdale.