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Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

RavenOne

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Sundog said:
kitnut617 said:
That's how I read the announcement, it's only a year away. It would suggest to me there's an aircraft already flying ----
There isn't a B-21 flying already, we would have seen it flying already, since it's hard to hide something that big at Edwards and NG would be talking about it (good press). It just passed critical design review not too long ago and even with advanced manufacturing techniques, we can't get something like that built that fast. We do know various demonstrators have flown as proof of concept vehicles for some of the technologies being used in it. But those were not the B-21.
So what with the Amarillo triangles then? The other OEMs built their offerings to the Pentagon and got duly rejected.

https://theaviationist.com/2014/04/23/two-different-black-projects/

Or maybe N-G had a prorotype squirrelled away flew it for the powers to be and received glistening pearls?

Cheers
 

flateric

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Amarillo triangles are just B-2s
 

RavenOne

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flateric said:
Amarillo triangles are just B-2s
Apparently someone wrote to Whiteman PAO and got response that no B-2 in the air that area.

Plus the wings are too swept back from flying wing almost artichoke.

Just my two Euros worth of thoughts.

Cheers
 

sferrin

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RavenOne said:
flateric said:
Amarillo triangles are just B-2s
Apparently someone wrote to Whiteman PAO and got response that no B-2 in the air that area.
It wouldn't surprise me to see a PR person get details wrong.

RavenOne said:
Plus the wings are too swept back from flying wing almost artichoke.

Cheers
A B-2 viewed at the right angle would look like that.
 

Flyaway

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flateric said:
Amarillo triangles are just B-2s
Some might have been. But an ideal place to hide something else is to to put it amongst similar things and then you can guarantee responses like yours.
 

sferrin

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Flyaway said:
flateric said:
Amarillo triangles are just B-2s
Some might have been. But an ideal place to hide something else is to to put it amongst similar things and then you can guarantee responses like yours.
So you think they'd fly a formation of bombers, including a secret bomber, in broad daylight over a large city?
 

flateric

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Flyaway said:
Some might have been. But an ideal place to hide something else is to to put it amongst similar things and then you can guarantee responses like yours.
Yes. Brilliant idea - put them together in daylight to give an observer or spotter with 600mm lenses a perfect ability to compare things. SECOP at its best.
 

flateric

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RavenOne said:
Apparently someone wrote to Whiteman PAO and got response that no B-2 in the air that area.
That's not true. Whiteman responded that they are not commenting on B-2 ops.
 

coanda

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Sundog said:
kitnut617 said:
That's how I read the announcement, it's only a year away. It would suggest to me there's an aircraft already flying ----
There isn't a B-21 flying already, we would have seen it flying already, since it's hard to hide something that big at Edwards and NG would be talking about it (good press). It just passed critical design review not too long ago and even with advanced manufacturing techniques, we can't get something like that built that fast. We do know various demonstrators have flown as proof of concept vehicles for some of the technologies being used in it. But those were not the B-21.
Agreed. CDR + 3 years for first flight.
 

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coanda said:
Agreed. CDR + 3 years for first flight.
You're likely correct. There is interesting new tech to watch. Might transform our expectations about what is possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihR9SX7dgRo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2thSsQrZUM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNkx-JR7jxM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR5N2Jl8k14

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws7XS7rVdEI
 

Sundog

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I found this on Steve Trimble's DEW Line. As he notes, the B-2 went from CDR to first flight in about three and a half years and the B-21's CDR was in Novemeber of 2018. Just saying. I expect the B-21 to be a little faster since it is using advanced manufacturing and it is smaller than the B-2.

Oriana Pawlyk

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Bunch says next critical milestone for B-21 is....first flight.

He didn't disclose when, but keep an eye to the skies... sometime...
1:00 PM - 9 Apr 2019
 

Grey Havoc

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fightingirish said:
A great honor to the airmen of the Doolittle Raid. B)
101-year-old Lt. Col. (ret) Richard E. Cole names B-21 "Raider"
Source: https://twitter.com/JamesDrewNews/status/777887944715726848
On a sad side note:
http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=24960&sid=f5a2816a978d6279cd08c471076af4eb
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/04/09/a-legend-passes-dick-cole-last-of-the-doolittle-raiders-dies-at-103/

R.I.P.
 

totoro

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We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant. Complexity is. Of which we know little, if any.

F-35 was using much more advanced manufacturing than older planes yet that didn't help. So requirements and complexity trump all those.

That being said, I don't see why B-21 could not indeed make the first flight sometime in summer of 2022. Still on track for entry into service in late 2020s.
 

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totoro said:
We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant.
Size will have a huge effect on payload and range. (Being dependent on a flock of tankers so you can perform your mission is not a positive.)
 

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sferrin said:
totoro said:
We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant.
Size will have a huge effect on payload and range. (Being dependent on a flock of tankers so you can perform your mission is not a positive.)
Size isn't very relevant for the time between CDR and first flight, which was the question at hand here.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
totoro said:
We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant.
Size will have a huge effect on payload and range. (Being dependent on a flock of tankers so you can perform your mission is not a positive.)
Size isn't very relevant for the time between CDR and first flight, which was the question at hand here.
Good point. :-X
 

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
sferrin said:
totoro said:
We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant.
Size will have a huge effect on payload and range. (Being dependent on a flock of tankers so you can perform your mission is not a positive.)
Size isn't very relevant for the time between CDR and first flight, which was the question at hand here.
Good point. :-X

And the mission is different. B-2 is designed to accommodate low level flight. B-21 looks to be designed for 50k+ missions. The efficiency of flight at this level would determine fuel load and engine selection, hence size, no?

Also seems likely that B-21 will be strategically smaller if only to open up a significant number of alternative runways. There just aren't that many available to aircraft the size of B-2.

Plus, given the small production run, weren't all B-2's were basically hand built? I don't see that even being feasible given where we are with materials and manufacturing today.
 

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totoro said:
We don't really know how much smaller, if any, B-21 is going to be. It does seem the requirements and size grew over time, over the last 10 or so years.
Also, size is not really very relevant. Complexity is. Of which we know little, if any.

F-35 was using much more advanced manufacturing than older planes yet that didn't help. So requirements and complexity trump all those.

That being said, I don't see why B-21 could not indeed make the first flight sometime in summer of 2022. Still on track for entry into service in late 2020s.
Complexity is relative.

All the 'tech' in B-21 is supposedly the 'latest' but not "new" for the program. Airframe and integration were to be the 'only' new endeavors. How difficult is building a new airframe? Even though it's a clean-sheet design, it looks a lot like B-2 to me and they've been working on B-2 and it's maintenance upgrades for 30 years. I wouldn't be surprised if there is very little risk here except for manufacturing techniques. And if there is, the risk was mitigated with RQ-180. How successful is the integration? We'll see in testing. Yet modeling flight dynamics was pretty good even back with YF-23 and that was 30 years ago.

F-35 was different, ostensibly one but really three new airframes and net new tech throughout. That's what B-21 program was seeking to avoid from what I understood. Also, F-35 has 1500 domestic and nine partner countries of international suppliers. B-21 has 7 top-tier suppliers and NG supplies significant portions of F-35 tech, some portion of which will be in B-21. It's likely that Palmdale is not only being used for final assembly but that a large amount of process and part work is also being done there. Vertical integration also adds a certain level of efficiency.

DoD was beat up pretty good for B-2 with $20B in R&D cost. It was further beat up by F-35 but those 1500 suppliers in almost every state guaranteed some base level of congressional support. It's likely why B-21 is being handled by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office to limit the possibility of bureaucratic changes to the program. Also, the DoD is not allowing cost information to be used politically. Strategically and fiscally the US can't afford another program debacle like F-35.

NG seems risk averse to me. They ate the F-20. YF-23 didn't win, probably in part because of the late USAF changes to B-2 and the difficulties those changes saddled on the program. We've seen them remove themselves from TX and then the X-47B change in priorities. Looking at how they've written the contracts for B-21, they have chosen to protect themselves financially from the changing priorities of DoD. That being said, they are a relatively nimble (compared to Boeing and LM) company focused on engineered solutions. NG's outreach to automobile manufacture assembly line suppliers allowed them to develop the Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) for F-35. The IAL has achieved a 450% increase in throughput cutting the assembly time of all three of the F-35 center fuselage by half compared to previous fighters. This history suggests to me they may have their ducks in a row for the B-21 build.

So now we have the unique situation of DoD recognizing their procurement shortcomings and taking steps to mitigate political and bureaucratic influences and the manufacturer a bit gun shy. We've seen NG partner with KUKA Systems North America early in the B-21 program, the same group that help create the IAL. We seen NG already hire some 5000 employees working B-21 at the Palmdale plant

If I were NG, I'd suspect that the perceived success or difficulty with B-21 and F-35 will play some part in what company is trusted with the next prize, PCA and F/A-XX. For these reasons I expect NG will surprise us with B-21.
 

sferrin

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NeilChapman said:
And the mission is different. B-2 is designed to accommodate low level flight. B-21 looks to be designed for 50k+ missions.
As was the B-2. That they added low-level flight didn't change the size of the bomber or it's payload.

NeilChapman said:
The efficiency of flight at this level would determine fuel load and engine selection, hence size, no?
Which is why the B-2 uses basically the same engine as the U-2.

https://www.geaviation.com/sites/default/files/datasheet-F118.pdf

NeilChapman said:
Also seems likely that B-21 will be strategically smaller if only to open up a significant number of alternative runways. There just aren't that many available to aircraft the size of B-2.
How do you figure?
 

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Full article.

Next Milestone for Future B-21 Bomber? First Flight

The Air Force's stealthy new bomber is getting ready to take its first flight.

"Our next major milestone is first flight," Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force's military deputy to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, said of the B-21 Long Range Strategic Bomber program.

During a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on airland hearing Tuesday, Bunch told lawmakers the program has met all developmental checkpoints and is on schedule.

While he didn't reveal when the flight will take place, officials have said the first B-21 is expected to reach initial operating capability in the mid-2020s.
 

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Additive manufacturing and generative design is not helping reduce time to flight of any full-size aircraft rght now. Mainly due to materials and processes qualifications. In the future, maybe...

Industrial improvements in terms of tooling, CF processing and robotics are far more likely to be driving any reductions in industrial schedules.
 

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Don't forget the complex ducting associated with a distributed propulsion system. Additive manufacturing and generative design will certainly lead to some time gain, hence money.
 

coanda

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Yes, disposable inner moulds for ducting is a good use for AM as tooling.
 

Sundog

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Joerg at Dreamland Resort reports on 4-12-19;

And who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of the B-21. We are pretty sure it is flying out of Groom. There is some activity some nights around 3-4am on the UHF Groom Control frequency. The actual mission is not on any of the known UHF Dreamland frequencies though.
Now, I think that may be a demonstrator, as the hangers to build the B-21 aren't even completed yet. I suppose there could be a "hand built" prototype, but until it is built from the actual tooling, I wouldn't consider it an actual B-21, IMHO.
 

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B-21 will be built at existing free space at Bld C401 at Site 4 at Plant 42, will be rolled out at Site 4 and will make her maiden flight from PMD to EDW just like B-2 where as it's already confirmed by DoD it will be tested. "New hangars" being built at Site 4 are not for B-21 production line.
 

Sundog

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B-21 will be built at existing free space at Bld C401 at Site 4 at Plant 42, will be rolled out at Site 4 and will make her maiden flight from PMD to EDW just like B-2 where as it's already confirmed by DoD it will be tested. "New hangars" being built at Site 4 are not for B-21 production line.
Oh, wow, thanks for the info. Do we know what those new hangers are for?
 

flateric

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It was discussed here before. New coatings facility for B-2 PDM.
 

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Additive manufacturing and generative design is not helping reduce time to flight of any full-size aircraft rght now. Mainly due to materials and processes qualifications. In the future, maybe...

Industrial improvements in terms of tooling, CF processing and robotics are far more likely to be driving any reductions in industrial schedules.
Are materials and process qualifications different for manned and unmanned air vehicles?

Just wondering if RQ180 could have been the test vehicle for materials and process qualifications for B-21 tech.
 

Flyaway

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Additive manufacturing and generative design is not helping reduce time to flight of any full-size aircraft rght now. Mainly due to materials and processes qualifications. In the future, maybe...

Industrial improvements in terms of tooling, CF processing and robotics are far more likely to be driving any reductions in industrial schedules.
Are materials and process qualifications different for manned and unmanned air vehicles?

Just wondering if RQ180 could have been the test vehicle for materials and process qualifications for B-21 tech.

Why would they use an active program as a test bed.
 

paperforce

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anyone here of it having built in guns? weird I know but i heard it was a potential possibility.
 

NeilChapman

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Additive manufacturing and generative design is not helping reduce time to flight of any full-size aircraft rght now. Mainly due to materials and processes qualifications. In the future, maybe...

Industrial improvements in terms of tooling, CF processing and robotics are far more likely to be driving any reductions in industrial schedules.
Are materials and process qualifications different for manned and unmanned air vehicles?

Just wondering if RQ180 could have been the test vehicle for materials and process qualifications for B-21 tech.

Why would they use an active program as a test bed.
Good point.

Perhaps 'test' depends on the level of risk one's willing to incur. Maybe I should have said 'helped qualify'. There might be tech one's willing to use on a limited run, black, ISR program rather than a front-line bomber program - at least at first. But operations with that tech on the former for a while may reduce the risk for the latter. Maybe not.
 

coanda

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Additive manufacturing and generative design is not helping reduce time to flight of any full-size aircraft rght now. Mainly due to materials and processes qualifications. In the future, maybe...

Industrial improvements in terms of tooling, CF processing and robotics are far more likely to be driving any reductions in industrial schedules.
Are materials and process qualifications different for manned and unmanned air vehicles?

Just wondering if RQ180 could have been the test vehicle for materials and process qualifications for B-21 tech.

Why would they use an active program as a test bed.
Good point.

Perhaps 'test' depends on the level of risk one's willing to incur. Maybe I should have said 'helped qualify'. There might be tech one's willing to use on a limited run, black, ISR program rather than a front-line bomber program - at least at first. But operations with that tech on the former for a while may reduce the risk for the latter. Maybe not.
This is all very boring workshop/test room qualification where testing includes things like characterising basic material properties to form data which can be used in structural design. This will cover hundreds of samples and include time on electron microscopes and x-ray machines looking at grain structure and effects of process variation during manufacture. This can be a couple of years of work.

Then you would look at using parts made from that material at the small scale in test and evaluation of actual parts with on ground representative loads testing.

Then you put those small parts on an aircraft and look at what happens in operation, with a view to expanding the adoption of the technology.

You watch for a long time to make sure there are no surprises before you start applying that tech to major structures.

And that's for airliners, not nuclear deterrent.

I can see a lot of additive manufacturing helping with shop floor tooling and jigs.
 
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Sundog

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From Aviation Week:

Program staff also briefed the wing’s leadership on the B-21 itself, telling them to expect the future bomber to fly as quietly as a Boeing 737.
The CSBA’s analysts, which include former Pentagon budget programmers, assessed that Northrop could deliver as many as 55 operational B-21s over the next decade, starting with the first production aircraft in 2024.
As such, I still lean towards it being a twin engine bomber smaller than the B-2.
 

Flyaway

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From Aviation Week:

Program staff also briefed the wing’s leadership on the B-21 itself, telling them to expect the future bomber to fly as quietly as a Boeing 737.
The CSBA’s analysts, which include former Pentagon budget programmers, assessed that Northrop could deliver as many as 55 operational B-21s over the next decade, starting with the first production aircraft in 2024.
As such, I still lean towards it being a twin engine bomber smaller than the B-2.
I thought the fact it would be twin engined was always assumed to be the case?
 

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Assumed but not confirmed; there's still a tiny chance that the B-21 will be larger / heavier than the B-2.
 

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It really doesn't need to be smaller if those two engines (assuming there are two of them) are F135 derived and give 133 kn of thrust each. B2's engines output 77 kn, based on f110 which had 74 kn of dry thrust. So a similar improvement from 128 kn to 133 kn would give a total of 266 kn of thrust. comparing that to B2's 308 kn it's not a VERY big difference. It may point to a somewhat smaller plane, but certainly not one half the size.
 

sferrin

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It really doesn't need to be smaller if those two engines (assuming there are two of them) are F135 derived and give 133 kn of thrust each. B2's engines output 77 kn, based on f110 which had 74 kn of dry thrust. So a similar improvement from 128 kn to 133 kn would give a total of 266 kn of thrust. comparing that to B2's 308 kn it's not a VERY big difference. It may point to a somewhat smaller plane, but certainly not one half the size.
Won't be packing 80 500lb JDAMs or a pair of GBU-57 MOPs.
 
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