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John Patierno; Led Development of Stealth Bomber

John Patierno, head of the Northrop research and development team that designed and built the controversial B-2 Stealth bomber, died Saturday at a Newport Beach hospital of cancer. He was 54 and until January had retained the title of corporate vice president and general manager of the company’s 12,000-employee B-2 division in Pico Rivera.

Before that he had been closely involved for 10 years in the studies that led to the secret technology that Northrop hopes will make the controversial B-2 the bomber of the future.

The bombers, which will cost $500 million each and which are currently undergoing wing redesign, came at the end of a 33-year career in aerodynamics for Patierno. During that time, and beginning with the Air Force’s T-38 jet trainer, a Northrop spokesman said, Patierno had played a role in the design of every aircraft produced by the company.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from USC, Patierno earlier this year was presented the Reed Aeronautics Award, the highest honor granted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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His survivors include his wife, Jean Rose, four children, three grandchildren, his mother, stepfather and a sister.


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