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Serbia Gets The B-2 Blues

Into the mix of U.S. air power brought to bear against Serb targets on Wednesday was the B-2 stealth bomber - a high-tech, high priced weapon more than 20 years in the making from blueprint to rollout to Wednesday's first ever use in combat.

CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod went to the home of the B-2 bomber at Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri, 60 miles southeast of Kansas City.

The B-2 is the world's most expensive airplane and now, after two decades in design and development, the U.S. military is finding out exactly what they got for their money.

They cost $2 billion dollars apiece, drop satellite-guided bombs from 40,000 feet and are designed to fly undetected by enemy radar. But the B-2 stealth bomber had never been tested in battle until Wednesday.

"This was the first use of the bombers in combat and I've got to tell you, the crews and the jets performed magnificently and are now safely on their way home," said Brigadier Gen. Leroy Barnidge.

The bat-winged B-2 is as wide as a football field, high-tech but slow flying. So slow, in fact, that if enemy radar does detect the plane, it is presumed dead.

The plane's thin outer skin, coated with radar-defying materials that conceal the B-2, has been a target for critics who charge it's too delicate - that even rain can damage the skin. The Air Force has denied the claim in the past.

"There is a misconception out there that the airplane will melt underwater. That is not the case," said Col. Jim Hood.

The Air Force says success is the best answer for the critics.

"It says to the critics that this airplane can do everything it's advertised plus some stuff," Barnidge said.

The pair of B-2 stealth bombers is expected back here sometime early Thursday morning. The feeling from the brass is mission accomplished, questions answered.

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