"Arsenal Plane" Concepts

In_A_Dream

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Bring Back Blimp/Balloon Bombardment.

eCEgUuo3RTkgRAOk
 

mkellytx

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Just being an automotive engineer I had always tthoughtthe buff was so slender was because it didn't need to carry 300+ people. It was designed around the ordnance. Just because a widebody airliner isn't optimized for alcms doesn't mean it can't still do that mission.
It only looks narrow because the wings are so big. Compared to the B-36 it was slender, compared to the B-47 it was fat.
 

sferrin

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Just being an automotive engineer I had always tthoughtthe buff was so slender was because it didn't need to carry 300+ people. It was designed around the ordnance. Just because a widebody airliner isn't optimized for alcms doesn't mean it can't still do that mission.
It only looks narrow because the wings are so big. Compared to the B-36 it was slender, compared to the B-47 it was fat.
It looks narrow because it IS narrow. Take the wings out of the equation and it's fuselage is still noticeably narrower than commercial aircraft. They don't call those things, "wide-bodies" for nothing.
 

Bhurki

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Very basic stuff..

Drag is directly proportional to cross sectional area.

Higher cross section is required to carry less dense stuff(people,their environment and luggage), hence the wide bodies.

787-8 cabin+cargo volume = 16,000 cu.ft
787-8 payload = 90000 lbs

Bombers carry payloads with much higher density and are required to have a lower drag among other flight characteritics, and so, volume isn't as big a deal.

B-52 bomb bay volume = 2,000 cu.ft
B-52 payload = 70,000 lbs (granted, not all of it goes into the bay)
 
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Fluff

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If Boeing are getting 8 trillion dollars to put pylons on a 787, and change it’s name to raider, good for them!
 

apparition13

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You could also build business jets with aesa/ datalinks and internal aams.... But no one talks about that
The Bombardier Global 6000 is used as:
Saab Globaleye AEW,
Saab Swordfish MPA,
RAF Raytheon Sentinal surveilance aircraft,
USAF E-11A communications aircraft,

Israel uses the Gulfstream G550 for the Eitam AEW system.

Militarized commercial aircraft are not uncommon. And since the B-21 has half the cruise missile capability of the B-2 (a single 8 round rotary launcher) a cruise missile carrier for stand-off weapon delivery seems a decent idea to me. Use the B-21 for the high threat environments, and use something derived from a long range airliner to launch cruise missiles from outside the range of air defenses.
 

Fluff

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These 2 tier force structures sound great, a real cash saver.

In reality, you still need a fleet of stealth/magnetic direct drive aircraft, for your peer on peer war. If you then have a second fleet, you dont use your first fleet, which still needs training time, engineer time, upgrades, and will eventually need replacing when technology changes.

so it may seem gold plating, to fly your superdooper bomber, just to lob cheap cruise missiles at guys in flip-flops, but your keeping your pilots current, your using up hours on your airframes, so you can buy the next one.
 

rooster

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You could also build business jets with aesa/ datalinks and internal aams.... But no one talks about that
The Bombardier Global 6000 is used as:
Saab Globaleye AEW,
Saab Swordfish MPA,
RAF Raytheon Sentinal surveilance aircraft,
USAF E-11A communications aircraft,

Israel uses the Gulfstream G550 for the Eitam AEW system.

Militarized commercial aircraft are not uncommon. And since the B-21 has half the cruise missile capability of the B-2 (a single 8 round rotary launcher) a cruise missile carrier for stand-off weapon delivery seems a decent idea to me. Use the B-21 for the high threat environments, and use something derived from a long range airliner to launch cruise missiles from outside the range of air defenses.
Touché
 

dark sidius

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You could also build business jets with aesa/ datalinks and internal aams.... But no one talks about that
The Bombardier Global 6000 is used as:
Saab Globaleye AEW,
Saab Swordfish MPA,
RAF Raytheon Sentinal surveilance aircraft,
USAF E-11A communications aircraft,

Israel uses the Gulfstream G550 for the Eitam AEW system.

Militarized commercial aircraft are not uncommon. And since the B-21 has half the cruise missile capability of the B-2 (a single 8 round rotary launcher) a cruise missile carrier for stand-off weapon delivery seems a decent idea to me. Use the B-21 for the high threat environments, and use something derived from a long range airliner to launch cruise missiles from outside the range of air defenses.
How do you know B-21 have a single 8 round rotary launcher ??
 

mkellytx

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These 2 tier force structures sound great, a real cash saver.

In reality, you still need a fleet of stealth/magnetic direct drive aircraft, for your peer on peer war. If you then have a second fleet, you dont use your first fleet, which still needs training time, engineer time, upgrades, and will eventually need replacing when technology changes.

so it may seem gold plating, to fly your superdooper bomber, just to lob cheap cruise missiles at guys in flip-flops, but your keeping your pilots current, your using up hours on your airframes, so you can buy the next one.
Hopefully all of that get mitigated by buying a full fleet of 100-170. That said, if the CPFH or maintenance costs for the LO are cost prohibitive they can always go the route of having T-7's at the base to keep up the beans on approaches and the like, not to mention those pesky flight hours so you can continue to get your flight pay...the B-2's do this with T-38's.

Honestly, the BUFF's will carry the load till the late 2030's, the Raiders will dominate the acquisition dollars till that time. Best guess, if there's a need for a non LO stand-off/low threat JDAM truck one of those blended wing body concepts will step into that roles and maybe the KC-10 replacement and/or C-5 replacement. FWIW the Lockheed BWB had two very large unpressurized cargo bays on either side of the pressurized center bay. Those could easily be turned into bomb bays if the need arose.
 

Bhurki

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You could also build business jets with aesa/ datalinks and internal aams.... But no one talks about that
The Bombardier Global 6000 is used as:
Saab Globaleye AEW,
Saab Swordfish MPA,
RAF Raytheon Sentinal surveilance aircraft,
USAF E-11A communications aircraft,

Israel uses the Gulfstream G550 for the Eitam AEW system.

Militarized commercial aircraft are not uncommon. And since the B-21 has half the cruise missile capability of the B-2 (a single 8 round rotary launcher) a cruise missile carrier for stand-off weapon delivery seems a decent idea to me. Use the B-21 for the high threat environments, and use something derived from a long range airliner to launch cruise missiles from outside the range of air defenses.
How do you know B-21 have a single 8 round rotary launcher ??
Because that'll make it directly capable of employing a multitude of payloads certified with the AF rotary launcher, seems like a logical decision seeing that its supossed to have exactly half the B2 capacity.
 

Josh_TN

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The aircraft's bay will still need it's own certification for stores, so I don't see them being limited to the current rotary launcher. Also while the B-21 is definitely smaller than the B-2, no exact weights or loads have been listed, so 'exactly half' seems presumptuous unless you have a source for that.

The B-52s have a long life in front of them (so long as they get new engines) so don't see the point of trying to shoehorn bomb bays into passenger aircraft (which historically never works well). To the extent there is ever an 'arsenal plane', it will be the B-21: it will be survivable and probably operate at a higher altitude than other bombers, from where it can fling whatever weapons can be accommodated in the bomb bay(s). I could easily see them being fitted with long range A2A weapons and using UAVs as their sensors.
 

marauder2048

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Best guess, if there's a need for a non LO stand-off/low threat JDAM truck one of those blended wing body concepts will step into that roles and maybe the KC-10 replacement and/or C-5 replacement. FWIW the Lockheed BWB had two very large unpressurized cargo bays on either side of the pressurized center bay. Those could easily be turned into bomb bays if the need arose.
The hybrid or full BWB is about the only compelling non-LO option especially as it looks as if
the roll-on/roll-off palletized munition launchers for the airlifters will be a thing.
 

mkellytx

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The hybrid or full BWB is about the only compelling non-LO option especially as it looks as if
the roll-on/roll-off palletized munition launchers for the airlifters will be a thing.
Thanks Marauder, it was the hybrid one I had in mind. The Boeing BWB's have a bit more pressurized area and pressure vessel isn't cylindrical like the LM concept.
 

seruriermarshal

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Air Force demonstrates value of rapid prototyping at Emerald Warrior
By Mark Ingram, Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office / Published May 14, 2021

An AFSOC MC-130J airdrops a Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) instrumented JASSM deployment box at White Sands Missile Range, March 2021. This program milestone maximized both stability and the weapon release envelope for the JASSM platform. This event also demonstrated, for the first time, the successful use of G-11 parachutes for airdrops at high altitude; setting an altitude record for their deployment from an air transport aircraft. (Courtesy photo)
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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office demonstrated the value experimentation and prototyping have in rapidly fielding capabilities to address warfighter needs as it participated with its partner, the Air Force Special Operations Command, at the Emerald Warrior exercise in March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

According to Dr. Dean Evans, Rapid Dragon Program Manager, SDPE successfully demonstrated that Rapid Dragon, previously known as the Palletized Munitions Program, was able to overcome issues identified in previous tests related to the stability of airdropped palletized munitions -- ultimately improving the likelihood of rapid fielding and significantly reducing the risk of costly failures during a planned live-fire demonstration later this year.
 

Bhurki

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Rapid Dragon experimentation campaign evaluates delivering long-range strike weapons via military cargo aircraft at Northern Edge 21

“The Rapid Dragon Program demonstrated the ability to transfer targeting data from the Standoff Munitions Applications Center (SMAC) to an airborne [AFSOC] aircraft,” said Dr. Dean Evans, Rapid Dragon program manager. “The data assigned a new routing and target to the on-board munition emulator, which set in motion the virtual launch of a ‘palletized’ Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missile.

During this operational demonstration, which simulated the “closing of the kill chain,” an off-board sensor identified an emerging target and provided the location to the All Domain Operations Center-Experiment (ADOC-E). ADOC-E directed SMAC to dynamically retarget the palletized missiles, which was accomplished via BLOS communications. ADOC-E simultaneously directed the aircraft to proceed to the new simulated release area. Onboard the MC-130J, the JASSM-ER emulator achieved all-up-round (AUR) status, demonstrating the ability to strike the new targets in accordance with the updated orders.

Achieving this milestone paves the way for the next flight test this summer, where SDPE will conduct a system level jettison test from an AFSOC MC-130J and an Air Mobility Command C-17. The current phase of the program will conduct a live munition test of this new capability by the end of the year.

Rapid Dragon offers a roll-on, roll-off capability that uses standard airdrop procedures without any modifications to the aircraft, thus transforming mobility aircraft into lethal strike weapon platforms that augment the strike capacity of tactical fighters and strategic bombers.
 

Bhurki

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Rapid Dragon experimentation campaign evaluates delivering long-range strike weapons via military cargo aircraft at Northern Edge 21
TLDR -
A C-17 now can be a stand off 100k lbs armament(Jassm, JSow, SDB(?)) disposing truck. Likewise 30k lbs for C-130J.
 

trose213

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I don't know how well it'll work for glide munitions, given it gets ejected partially from the aircraft by drag.
 

TomS

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I don't know how well it'll work for glide munitions, given it gets ejected partially from the aircraft by drag.

I'd think most of the glide range stems from trading altitude for velocity. So as long as the weapons are deployed from altitude, being a bit slower at launch isn't a huge issue.
 

Bhurki

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Also, not nearly enough C-17s available as it is.
For a westpac scenario, C-17s will have little use in terms of transport, since operating within the first island chain is a no-no. Hence the increased focus on stand off capabilities. Most of the transport requirement (both fire and support) will be met by ships.

And if under any circumstance, the use cases for C-17 as a transporter are to open up, like paratrooping and force projection inside of first island chain, the theater will first need to be pummelled with overmatched number of strikes with stand off munitions to degrade enemy's area denial systems.
 
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Bhurki

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Most of the transport requirement (both fire and support) will be met by ships.
Not with the current state of the US Navy and US Merchant Marine, it won't.
USN has about 20 million ft² of (surge+)sealift capacity, and plenty of forward stockpiling positions as far as westpac is concerned(guam being the primary one).

"Looking at a notional 4,000-nautical-mile scenario comparing equal-cost ($20 million) lift forces [C-17s and the new large medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ships] and assuming no prepositioned ships in the theater, airlift could deliver 72,000 tons of cargo in 36 days. Sealift, on the other hand, could deliver 3,960,000 tons in the same 36 days."
 
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trose213

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Also, not nearly enough C-17s available as it is.
For a westpac scenario, C-17s will have little use in terms of transport, since operating within the first island chain is a no-no. Hence the increased focus on stand off capabilities. Most of the transport requirement (both fire and support) will be met by ships.

And if under any circumstance, the use cases for C-17 as a transporter are to open up, like paratrooping and force projection inside of first island chain, the theater will first need to be pummelled with overmatched number of strikes with stand off munitions to degrade enemy's area denial systems.
They'll be flying in materiel, if rockets don't take that job or they just move to do strike with them and cut out all the nonsense.
 

seruriermarshal

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Rapid Dragon conducts first system-level demonstration of palletized munitions
By Dean R. Evans, Ph.D., Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office / Published August 20, 2021

 

isayyo2

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From C-17 and C-130
The SDPE office, along with its partners, Air Force Futures, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Mobility Command, U.S. Special Operations Command Det 1, and the 412th Test Wing, completed its first system-level flight test on EC-130SJ and C-17A aircraft.
So EC-130's are dropping payloads, very interesting test vehicle. Just a one-off test, or more to come for these special Hercules?
An interesting note is that the EC-130Js can also be refueled by boom, making them a good choice for "arsenal plane" missions.
 

uk 75

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Starting with a clean piece of paper why not design a manned/unmanned airframe about the size of a Boeing 777 with dispensers/bays for the widest possible range of stand-off weapons and fuel efficient engines?
 

Bhurki

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Starting with a clean piece of paper why not design a manned/unmanned airframe about the size of a Boeing 777 with dispensers/bays for the widest possible range of stand-off weapons and fuel efficient engines?
That would take money from the bomber program (whether it be B-21 or B-52 upgrade, thats just how the colour of money effects DoD). You can do the same from 600+ C17 and C-130.
 

yasotay

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I have to wonder how US TRANSCOM is going to feel about their critical airlifters being turned into AC-17?
 

bobbymike

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But while the B-52 could carry 20 of these 21′ cruise missiles, the 747 CMCA could carry a whopping 72
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A fleet of 200 carrying 14,400 ALCMs :p
 

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Rapid Dragon Demonstrates Palletized Munition Capability In First C-17 And EC-130 System-Level Demonstrations
High above the New Mexico desert, mobility aircraft air-launched surrogate cruise missiles in the first demonstration of a palletized strike mission
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 21, 2021 – In partnership with the Air Force, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) recently deployed Rapid Dragon munition pallets from C-17 and EC‑130 aircraft and released surrogate JASSM-ERs in system-level flights conducted over White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Rapid Dragon is a fast-paced U.S. Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) program that has moved from concept to surrogate missile deployment in just 10 months.
“These Rapid Dragon deployments represent the first end-to-end demonstration of a palletized strike mission, from rolling missile pallets onto an aircraft to in-flight missile release,” said Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Programs director. “They are a big step toward showing the feasibility of the palletized munitions concept and the ability of mobility aircraft to augment the strike capacity of tactical fighters and strategic bombers.”
  • C-17-Rapid-Dragon-Airdrop.jpg

    A Rapid Dragon pallet deploys from a C-17 aircraft over White Sands Missile Range. The demos covered all aspects of a palletized strike mission up to and including the release of surrogate cruise missiles.
The Rapid Dragon team conducted an airdrop from a C-17A Globemaster III and another from an EC-130SJ Commando Solo. In both flights, aircrews deployed a pallet at an operationally relevant altitude. Once stabilized by parachutes, the pallets released surrogate missiles in quick succession, each aerodynamically identical to a JASSM-ER.
A ground crew transmitted new targeting information to the Rapid Dragon system during both flights via beyond line-of-sight communications. The ability to retarget missiles while the aircraft is airborne provides combatant commanders the flexibility to respond to changes in a dynamic operational environment.
SDPE and Lockheed Martin are conducting additional tests in coming months, culminating in an MC‑130J airdrop of a real JASSM-ER under powered flight by the end of 2021.

 
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_Del_

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The problem with using the cargo fleet is there will already be a serious strain on the AMC (I stopped myself from typing MAC!) fleet in a major conflict. It's fine to have that as a swing capability, but unless we invest more into the fleet, I'm not sure it really adds anything. Those aircraft will be quite busy already lugging beans, bullets, and bombs to support ongoing operations by dedicated combat aircraft.

And the only line open is the Herk line. The one least viable as a swing-bomber in a major conflict.

Something like a Harvest Hawk capability makes a lot of sense to have in your pocket in low-intensity environments. I'm not sure the availability and survivability in a major high-intensity conflict makes a good use case (unless we invest in a much bigger cargo fleet-- typically harder to fund, as AMC aircraft are less "sexy" than buying more combat aircraft).
 

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TLDR: Next up, drop from an MC-130J with a JASSM-ER surrogate with deployable wings and tail to show the transition to stabilised flight, then MC-130J with a full-up JASSM-ER by end of the year and C-17 with full-up JASSM-ER in Spring '22.
 

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