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U.S. Air Force to Work on First New Bomber Since B-2

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Sept. 14 -- The U.S. Air Force expects to start working on a new bomber in the next budget, the first such warplane since Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-2 Spirit was developed almost three decades ago.

 

“It’s my conviction that the nation benefits from a long- range strike capability,” General Norton Schwartz, chief of staff for the Air Force, said today at the annual Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

 

The service plans to keep using its B-2, B-1 and B-52 bombers while working on a “new platform,” Schwartz said. The program could initially produce a “modest” aircraft that eventually would incorporate more-advanced capabilities, Schwartz said.

 

Adding a new bomber would sharpen the competition for Pentagon dollars as Defense Secretary Robert Gates moves to slow a “gusher” of spending since 2001, capping annual growth at the inflation rate. The bat-wing-shaped B-2, which went into development in 1981, costs about $1.2 billion each.

 

Such expenses have helped spur upgrades to current models decades after they began flying. Boeing Co.’s first B-52 entered service in 1954, and the B-1, developed by a company now owned by Boeing, became operational in the mid-1980s.

 

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-09-14/u-s-air-force-to-work-on-first-new-bomber-since-b-2.html

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4776771&c=AME&s=AIR

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I cant believe those guys...

 

We cant replace our olds Mirage 3EA and the SAC want a new toy...

 

By the way they are 100% originals as they came out from the factory, never a MLU, excellent option for A&S museum!!! :grin:

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Why not take the consequences and reopen the Buff lines instead?? It would be cheaper in the end

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You'd have to redesign it. There's no way anyone would approve an 8-engined plane today, and it's unnecessary. They've only talked of re-engining the Buffs since sometime after the thing enetered service, but it gains no ground.

Besides, the thing shows up on radar like another radar dish mounted a foot away...you need those extra 4 engines just to power the ECM to keep it from being swatted by SAMs.

I'd favor reopening the B-1B line with some changes here and there and I think it would make a pretty good low-cost B-3, albeit never as stealthy as a B-2, but you could make it better.

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No w I'm maybe asking a dumb question... But has the B-52x not only 8 engines because of the lack of trust in jet engines when it first was developed??

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yes and yes:grin: i think the air force keeps the same engines on cause they are already bought and paid for years ago and they have plenty of stock to get spare parts from in the Arizona boneyard.

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At the time, it was the lack of thrust for the performance (payload and range) needed for the B-52 specification.

 

Now, it's just because the engines are cheap. It would be very expensive per aircraft to reengine them with the amount of benefit you might get. Sometimes it's worth it (KC-135R, C-5M), but sometimes it isn't.

 

Folks have talked about restarting assembly lines before. What they fail to remember is that usually to do without the original tooling, space, blueprints, personnel, etc, is enormously expensive because for all intents and purposes, you're starting a brand new assembly line. Plus, you'd have to reverse engineer the product you are trying to build again...then design improvements into it, then build your tooling, then go through the teething pains of integration...I could go on.

 

In my opinion, there should be 2 next generation bombers. One should be a low tech bomb / standoff weapons truck. Something cheap to build, designed to operate over low threat areas, carry every weapon available (and a lot of them), have tons of range and loiter time. A BUFF 2.0 as it were. The idea is that this would be your heavy secondary hitter, either by long range cruise missile (or even ALBMs) or long loiter for CAS. Heck, start with a 747-400 and add pylons.

 

The other 'tier' would be a 'silver bullet' force. Hi-tech, fast, stealthly. Your 'first day' hitters, deployable, adaptable but for the most part, specialized. I personally like the idea of an FB-111 sized aircraft...or better yet, the FB-22 concept that was floated around a few years ago.

 

FC

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I kind of like the idea of bringing two versions of the B-1 into the equation. One, the EB-1C, as a conventional ordnance dump truck/standoff jammer that has long range and loiter time for battlefield persistance and uses as many readily available accessories as possible to keep costs down. The other, the B-1D, will be a stealthy Mach 2.5+ silver bullet penetrator.

 

We will go ahead and give the EB-1C high bypass non-afterburning turbofan engines such as the GE90 or the GExx, basiclly a standard COTS engine built for airliners. For the B-1D put a version of the GE F-136 in there and call it a day. Give the B-1D air to air capability via dedicated missile bays (like the F-22) and keep the two to three standard bomb bays. Install AESA radar in both and give them both an advanced EW suite for self protection. I say maintain a four man crew (two pilots and two WSO/ECMO's) for the EB-1C and a three man crew (two pilots and a WSO) for the B-1D. The EB-1C can have a fixed geometry (or limited VG wing) to maintain more internal space for fuel, weapons and avionics.

 

For weapons the B-1D will use Everything in the inventory from Conventional/Nuclear bombs and missiles to high energy lasers. The EB-1C can have all of its latent bomb carrying capability (external hardpoints) activated for conventional bombs and standoff weapons. I'm thinking 100-140 EB-1C's and 60 B-1D's should be sufficient for a 60 year service life, maybe build a few extra as attrition replacements. My idea seems to dovetail with FC's in function but not in the hardware.

 

... or, as is the answer to the Navy problems, we could just sell the Air Force some Super Hornets :dntknw:

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You couldn't put 777/787-style engines on a B-1, there's no clearance under the fuselage for that. Besides, size considerations would mean only 2 engines instead of 4.

Using the F119 or F135/136 could work, however.

Frankly, if you're going to make a missile truck that never overflies the target then a 747 Freighter mod could well suffice. It has the payload and range requirements. I can't imagine wanting to fly it over a target to drop bombs, though, even in so-called low threat areas because you never know where a SAM might be hiding. The B-1 has agility that no airliner can match and is useful at low level as well as normal operating altitudes, something the Buff can't match nor could an airliner.

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You couldn't put 777/787-style engines on a B-1, there's no clearance under the fuselage for that. Besides, size considerations would mean only 2 engines instead of 4.

I knew someone would point that out. The position of the current engine pods on the B-1B restricts its ordnance loadouts. The engines intakes will have to be mounted differently in both cases to get full utility out of its ordnance carrying ability. So why not have two large and powerful engines in a different mounting position? Adjustments can be made for clearance issues. I still see a lot of potential in the design.

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Time to reboot the YF-23

 

 

I say hell yea. for the requirements in 1991 (straight air dominance/ dogfighting, not a pound for air to ground) the Raptor was the better plane. however the F-23 was always my fav of the two and would have been better suited to serve as a strike fighter as well as interceptor(stand off and club baby seals as the Raptor pilots say). unfortuneately the tooling for it has to be long gone or we could have made a lower cost stealth for ANG, AFRES and allies since Congress doesn't wanna approve the 22 for export or fight to keep production open. as to bomber survivabilty, the BUFF can take a lickin and... you know. hell there was one that lost its tail and made it home!

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Pretty much the only alternative spot for B-1 engine mounting is on top of the fuselage where the engines are now, mounted more Blinder-style but still in front of the tail, not on it.

The problem with that, of course, is the aerodynamics TOTALLY changes. The thrust line is now above the wings instead of below so increasing thrust would push the nose down, the weight distribution would change, etc. It would make the plane more stealthy to have the intakes on its back, of course.

I think it boils down to "how much can you change the base design before the costs increase to the point you could just start from scratch anyway?" Look at the Super Hornet...despite claims of being based on the Hornet, it's really a brand-new design from top-to-bottom with its own set of unique problems that decades of Hornet operation neither foresaw nor aided (wing drop?)

 

Planes like the C-5 and U-2 that had their lines reopened had minimal changes compared to when they were shutdown, which is why they were cost effective. Besides, the B-1's engines aren't outdated, and the plane has massive range. It's one of the few planes out there I'd say is NOT going to benefit from a reengining, unlike the C-5, B-52, E-3, E-8, etc.

 

What gets me is that it looks like the F-15 will still be rolling off the production lines after the F-22 line shuts down. Granted it's the Strike Eagle variant, which replaced the air superiority variant in the late 80s on the line and haven't been built since, but we're not going to be having "F-22Es" replacing the A on the line either. F-15's in continuous production for over 35 years, F-22's for barely a dozen. Frankly, if we're not going to buy enough F-22s to replace all the F-15Cs, which are starting to have serious problems due to their age, they should just buy more F-15s with AESA to replace the F-15Cs.

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Pretty much the only alternative spot for B-1 engine mounting is on top of the fuselage where the engines are now, mounted more Blinder-style but still in front of the tail, not on it.

The problem with that, of course, is the aerodynamics TOTALLY changes. The thrust line is now above the wings instead of below so increasing thrust would push the nose down, the weight distribution would change, etc. It would make the plane more stealthy to have the intakes on its back, of course.

I think it boils down to "how much can you change the base design before the costs increase to the point you could just start from scratch anyway?" Look at the Super Hornet...despite claims of being based on the Hornet, it's really a brand-new design from top-to-bottom with its own set of unique problems that decades of Hornet operation neither foresaw nor aided (wing drop?)

 

The optimal area for the larger engine would have to have its placement close to the wing chord line close to the positions they are at now. With that placement things can be done to deal with the change in thrust line such as lengthening the fuselage or changing the tail surfaces by reducing their length from the fuselage and reducing the aspect ratio of the tailplane while trying to maintain the surface area. Larger canards can also assist a bit. The intake trunks will have to be located over the top of the fuselage for the ordnance issues.

 

Planes like the C-5 and U-2 that had their lines reopened had minimal changes compared to when they were shutdown, which is why they were cost effective. Besides, the B-1's engines aren't outdated, and the plane has massive range. It's one of the few planes out there I'd say is NOT going to benefit from a reengining, unlike the C-5, B-52, E-3, E-8, etc.

 

Well, if you want the same airplane then just build more of the same. If you need more capability from a performance standpoint, then you have to do some redesign. As for the engines, the difference between the F-101 and the F-136 installed in a B-1 airframe would be 124,000lbs total thrust for the F-101 and 160,000lbs for the F-136. With a max takeoff weight of around 470k-480k lbs any pilot would appreciate the 31,000lbs of extra thrust provided by the four F-136 powerplants.

 

What gets me is that it looks like the F-15 will still be rolling off the production lines after the F-22 line shuts down. Granted it's the Strike Eagle variant, which replaced the air superiority variant in the late 80s on the line and haven't been built since, but we're not going to be having "F-22Es" replacing the A on the line either. F-15's in continuous production for over 35 years, F-22's for barely a dozen. Frankly, if we're not going to buy enough F-22s to replace all the F-15Cs, which are starting to have serious problems due to their age, they should just buy more F-15s with AESA to replace the F-15Cs.

 

Yup, that's exactly how it looks right now. Unfortunatly the trend for fewer quality aircraft will continue as long as we let it happen. The problem is amplified by our national debt, the recession and our government playing big brother to everyone.

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As a former B-1 driver, I will tell you the idea of putting high bypass engines on a Bone is a complete non-starter. All those modifications you stated trying to do so would result in a brand new aircraft (so much for saving on development costs) that still would not be as efficient, as long ranged, or have as much payload capacity as a clean sheet aircraft based on a transport design. Hell, I'd rather just restringer and reengine the BUFF. Trying to bastardize a Bone to make it compete with such a design in those capabilities is silly. There was a reason after the B-1A was cancelled that Rockwell's 'B-1 family derviatives' aircraft were all rejected as well.

 

On the other hand, an enhanced penetrator version, using F-119 engines and further minor stealth enhancements makes more sense, in that current aircraft could be modified to the standard without rebuilding the entire airframe or restarting the production line. F-119 engines have already been fitted and flown in testbed F-15s and F-16s, so the engineering to put such an engine into a F-100/101 sized bay has been done. Avionics and stealth coatings/shapings could be retrofitted with comparatively little effort.

 

The F-23 is another non-starter. It's still a fighter-sized aircraft...you need something significantly larger for long-range strikes.

 

FC

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Hey, I recognize that font! Is that from "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes"??

 

I read that thing cover to cover so many times when I was younger and there was less reference material easily found than now...

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It's from 'Modern Fighting Aircraft - B-1B' Volume 11, by a company called ARCO.

 

My copy is pretty well worn coverwise...but it makes a great laptop lap rest.

 

FC

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To be honest, the time of manned combat planes now comes to an end. Unfortunatly.

The future will bring combat drones. And i dislike it.

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The book I mentioned was a compilation of several books, each on a separate plane. I wonder if your book was the source. I recognize the diagram as well, I'll have to pull my copy out of the closet and examine it!

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