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Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

NeilChapman

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Also didn't i read they only plan to build 8 a year? I hope that is incorrect.

Also shouldn't they keep the spirits around as they could now be seen as no longer too valuable to be used in certain scenarios with the Raider in the fleet?

...
If there were plans to build 8 per year, I can only expect that the discussions about potential production rate increases have taken place.

It will be quite awhile before Raider squadrons are fully capable. They may be flying in the mid 2020's but they need time to learn its capabilities and how best to deploy them. The United States has only had 20 "stealth" bombers. That's not a very deep cadre of pilots with experience in this type of mission.

If it were me, I think I'd keep as many bombers as I could afford. The tragedy is that the United States has very few bombers. They want re-engine the B-52's and ensure they can carry on pylons whatever was in the pipeline but I'd be reticent to go wild with new tech. Perhaps a program to 3D print as much of the B-52 as makes sense and start stockpiling parts. Any viable Buffs in the boneyard should get new engines as well. There're probably not enough left to make a viable squadron but you could add a "spare" to existing squadrons and increase their MCR's. There will be those that want glass cockpits, laser weapons, DAS, etc, etc. They'll probably get it. Personally, I'd rather see Buff, Bone, and B-2 as arsenal planes going nowhere near contested airspace once Raider is ready. Every study I've read is unequivocal that the US needs at least 200 bombers for any sustained near-peer engagement.
 

FighterJock

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Also didn't i read they only plan to build 8 a year? I hope that is incorrect.

Also shouldn't they keep the spirits around as they could now be seen as no longer too valuable to be used in certain scenarios with the Raider in the fleet?

...
If there were plans to build 8 per year, I can only expect that the discussions about potential production rate increases have taken place.

It will be quite awhile before Raider squadrons are fully capable. They may be flying in the mid 2020's but they need time to learn its capabilities and how best to deploy them. The United States has only had 20 "stealth" bombers. That's not a very deep cadre of pilots with experience in this type of mission.

If it were me, I think I'd keep as many bombers as I could afford. The tragedy is that the United States has very few bombers. They want re-engine the B-52's and ensure they can carry on pylons whatever was in the pipeline but I'd be reticent to go wild with new tech. Perhaps a program to 3D print as much of the B-52 as makes sense and start stockpiling parts. Any viable Buffs in the boneyard should get new engines as well. There're probably not enough left to make a viable squadron but you could add a "spare" to existing squadrons and increase their MCR's. There will be those that want glass cockpits, laser weapons, DAS, etc, etc. They'll probably get it. Personally, I'd rather see Buff, Bone, and B-2 as arsenal planes going nowhere near contested airspace once Raider is ready. Every study I've read is unequivocal that the US needs at least 200 bombers for any sustained near-peer engagement.
I would also like to see the B-52 B-1 and B-2 turned into arsenal planes, Imagine them all being armed with the new AIM-260 and flying ahead of the main attack force shooting down enemy fighters and bombers, it would be total devastation.
 

sferrin

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Also didn't i read they only plan to build 8 a year? I hope that is incorrect.

Also shouldn't they keep the spirits around as they could now be seen as no longer too valuable to be used in certain scenarios with the Raider in the fleet?

...
If there were plans to build 8 per year, I can only expect that the discussions about potential production rate increases have taken place.

It will be quite awhile before Raider squadrons are fully capable. They may be flying in the mid 2020's but they need time to learn its capabilities and how best to deploy them. The United States has only had 20 "stealth" bombers. That's not a very deep cadre of pilots with experience in this type of mission.

If it were me, I think I'd keep as many bombers as I could afford. The tragedy is that the United States has very few bombers. They want re-engine the B-52's and ensure they can carry on pylons whatever was in the pipeline but I'd be reticent to go wild with new tech. Perhaps a program to 3D print as much of the B-52 as makes sense and start stockpiling parts. Any viable Buffs in the boneyard should get new engines as well. There're probably not enough left to make a viable squadron but you could add a "spare" to existing squadrons and increase their MCR's. There will be those that want glass cockpits, laser weapons, DAS, etc, etc. They'll probably get it. Personally, I'd rather see Buff, Bone, and B-2 as arsenal planes going nowhere near contested airspace once Raider is ready. Every study I've read is unequivocal that the US needs at least 200 bombers for any sustained near-peer engagement.
I would also like to see the B-52 B-1 and B-2 turned into arsenal planes, Imagine them all being armed with the new AIM-260 and flying ahead of the main attack force shooting down enemy fighters and bombers, it would be total devastation.

Not enough enemy planes to justify it. Stuff one bay on the B-1Bs with AIM-260s, one bay with LRASMs, and a fuel tank in the 3rd bay and use it for patrol.
 

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Wouldn't you have the arsenal planes flying to the rear since they are more detectable but carry longer range missiles?
 

sferrin

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Wouldn't you have the arsenal planes flying to the rear since they are more detectable but carry longer range missiles?
Why would you put them to the rear? We're talking maybe a 200 mile range AAM.
 

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Why would you put them to the rear? We're talking maybe a 200 mile range AAM.
Exactly, so there's no need to have them at the front, when you can have smaller, stealthier fighters at the front detecting the oncoming enemy fighters.
 

sferrin

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Why would you put them to the rear? We're talking maybe a 200 mile range AAM.
Exactly, so there's no need to have them at the front, when you can have smaller, stealthier fighters at the front detecting the oncoming enemy fighters.

Depends what your definition of "the front" is. If you have them in the rear, with the tankers, you're going to be in danger of shooting down your own fighters.
 

sferrin

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Forest Green

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Depends what your definition of "the front" is. If you have them in the rear, with the tankers, you're going to be in danger of shooting down your own fighters.
Depends on altitude and the flight profile of the missiles. If you have them up front, you aren't making use of the range of the missiles and you're putting a large aircraft like a B-1 up front to be seen and targeted by enemy stealth fighters.
 

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Wouldn't you have the arsenal planes flying to the rear since they are more detectable but carry longer range missiles?
Why would you put them to the rear? We're talking maybe a 200 mile range AAM.
Because at that range they will be in danger of being yeeted on by R-37 and Izd. 810?
Elaborate.
What exactly? If you're holding those big unmaneuverable targets in the rear without proper armament they can be easily plinked by long range AAMs from range barely reachable even by frontend fighters.
 

sferrin

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Wouldn't you have the arsenal planes flying to the rear since they are more detectable but carry longer range missiles?
Why would you put them to the rear? We're talking maybe a 200 mile range AAM.
Because at that range they will be in danger of being yeeted on by R-37 and Izd. 810?
Elaborate.
What exactly? If you're holding those big unmaneuverable targets in the rear without proper armament they can be easily plinked by long range AAMs from range barely reachable even by frontend fighters.
Go back and read what was said.
 

sferrin

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If you have them up front, you aren't making use of the range of the missiles and you're putting a large aircraft like a B-1 up front to be seen and targeted by enemy stealth fighters.
The whole point of an aresenal plane, with long range, is to extend the distance you can defend. Parking them back with tankers defeats the entire point of having arsenal planes.
 

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The whole point of an aresenal plane, with long range, is to extend the distance you can defend. Parking them back with tankers defeats the entire point of having arsenal planes.
More like it stops them being shot down by stealth fighters carrying similar missiles, which won't even be detectable at 200 miles. There's no point in the missiles having 200 mile range if you can only detect stealth fighters at say 30-50 miles and they can detect you at 150-200 miles and you're in a large unmanoeuvrable blob. Ideally would want unmanned drones detecting the enemy planes up front, but in the meantime stealth fighters up front are the best option.
 

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Go back and read what was said.
Calmness and politeness are just overflowing... What was said is that you technically SHOULD put arsenal planes to the rear, cuz they are easy and valuable targets. But to exploit that you need missiles that outranges ones that fighters carry at least on the depth of formation OR combined with AAMs on fighters outranges LRAAMs of enemy. Putting missile trucks in the back in the situation where enemy can reach them without entering launch envelope of either fighter lead or missile truck might end in shabby situation.
 

kaiserd

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“Arsenal plane” versions of strategic bombers is one of those ideas that pop up every so often but rarely get anywhere near hardware.
The closest aircraft to this concept that ever get into service is probably the Russian TU-128 (long range loitering interceptor based a couple times removed from a bomber design).
Then there were not unsimilar concepts for the British Vulcan bomber, all essentially airborne radar and missile posts that assumed the absence of opposing fighter aircraft (the Tornado ADV & MIG-31 conceptual not a million miles from this, though obviously quite different in execution).

In the absence of a directly equivalent role or need (with similar assumptions of lack of opposing fighters) not seeing a driver for any of the existing US bombers to pick up such a role; only the B-52 likely to live long enough for any major hardware changes to be worth while anyway. And the B-2 would appear highly mismatched for this role.

Re: the B-21 seems potentially a very risky tasking for such a high value asset (that will also be highly tasked in its actual intended role); if this air-to-air arsenal role is 100 percent needed then surely better done by less expensive more expendable and tailored UCAVs and the like.
 

sferrin

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Go back and read what was said.
Calmness and politeness are just overflowing... What was said is that you technically SHOULD put arsenal planes to the rear, cuz they are easy and valuable targets. But to exploit that you need missiles that outranges ones that fighters carry at least on the depth of formation OR combined with AAMs on fighters outranges LRAAMs of enemy. Putting missile trucks in the back in the situation where enemy can reach them without entering launch envelope of either fighter lead or missile truck might end in shabby situation.

What is the point of placing arsenal planes so far back that their missiles only reach your own aircraft? Put them where they're useful: up with the fighters. (Maybe 20 miles back but not all the way back with tankers/AWACS.)
 

sferrin

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The whole point of an aresenal plane, with long range, is to extend the distance you can defend. Parking them back with tankers defeats the entire point of having arsenal planes.
More like it stops them being shot down by stealth fighters carrying similar missiles, which won't even be detectable at 200 miles. There's no point in the missiles having 200 mile range if you can only detect stealth fighters at say 30-50 miles and they can detect you at 150-200 miles and you're in a large unmanoeuvrable blob. Ideally would want unmanned drones detecting the enemy planes up front, but in the meantime stealth fighters up front are the best option.
How would that be any different with AWACS, tankers, F-15s, etc?
 
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GARGEAN

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What is the point of placing arsenal planes so far back that their missiles only reach your own aircraft? Put them where they're useful: up with the fighters. (Maybe 20 miles back but not all the way back with tankers/AWACS.)
You need to put them that way that reach of their missiles will be at least equal to fighter front. But way farther than 20 miles, that will make close to zero difference. But for that you need proper long range AAMs.
 

sferrin

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What is the point of placing arsenal planes so far back that their missiles only reach your own aircraft? Put them where they're useful: up with the fighters. (Maybe 20 miles back but not all the way back with tankers/AWACS.)
You need to put them that way that reach of their missiles will be at least equal to fighter front. But way farther than 20 miles, that will make close to zero difference. But for that you need proper long range AAMs.
If F-22s, F-15s, and B-1Bs are all carrying AIM-260s, what's it going to accomplish putting the B-1Bs hundreds of miles behind the fighters? Of what use is that?
 

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If F-22s, F-15s, and B-1Bs are all carrying AIM-260s, what's it going to accomplish putting the B-1Bs hundreds of miles behind the fighters? Of what use is that?
In that situation you don't need missile trucks at all. They are needed if proper LRAAM is available.
 

sferrin

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If F-22s, F-15s, and B-1Bs are all carrying AIM-260s, what's it going to accomplish putting the B-1Bs hundreds of miles behind the fighters? Of what use is that?
In that situation you don't need missile trucks at all. They are needed if proper LRAAM is available.
You need missile trucks because there are more targets than defenders. As for "proper" LRAAM, AIM-260 is what we've been discussing the entire time.
 

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How would that be any different with AWACS, tankers, F-15s, etc?
You would put your stealth fighter assets up front to target the enemy because they are the least detectable. The arsenal planes would be forward of the AWACS and tankers but behind the stealth fighters.
 

sferrin

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How would that be any different with AWACS, tankers, F-15s, etc?
You would put your stealth fighter assets up front to target the enemy because they are the least detectable. The arsenal planes would be forward of the AWACS and tankers but behind the stealth fighters.
Then we're pretty much on the same page. The arsenal planes need to be far enough forward for the stealth fighters to make use of their missiles.
 

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If F-22s, F-15s, and B-1Bs are all carrying AIM-260s, what's it going to accomplish putting the B-1Bs hundreds of miles behind the fighters? Of what use is that?
Because the B-1Bs are gigantic and much more easily detected on radar than F-22s and F-35s, and the AIM-260's range wouldn't even be useful in an upfront encounter with say J-20s because you won't be able to detect them from outside AIM-120 range anyway. The J-20 will detect the lumbering B-1B first and shoot it down before it is even detected. Put the F-22s up front however and they can detect the J-20s before they are detected or at least at around the same time (depending on actual performance) and relay targeting information back to the B-1Bs, which are still outside J-20 firing range.
 

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You need missile trucks because there are more targets than defenders. As for "proper" LRAAM, AIM-260 is what we've been discussing the entire time.
Can't say that I am considering 260 as proper LRAAM. Extended range MRAAM would be better call imho.
 

sferrin

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You need missile trucks because there are more targets than defenders. As for "proper" LRAAM, AIM-260 is what we've been discussing the entire time.
Can't say that I am considering 260 as proper LRAAM. Extended range MRAAM would be better call imho.
We don't even know what it's range is. What would you consider a "proper" LRAAM?
 

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We don't even know what it's range is.
Indeed, but from what we heard before (120 replacement, proper internal carry) I think expecting more than 200km is quite a bit optimistic

What would you consider a "proper" LRAAM?
Something big, fast and drastically outranging AAMs of tech class. R-37/37M for example.
 

FighterJock

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We don't even know what it's range is.
Indeed, but from what we heard before (120 replacement, proper internal carry) I think expecting more than 200km is quite a bit optimistic

What would you consider a "proper" LRAAM?
Something big, fast and drastically outranging AAMs of tech class. R-37/37M for example.
How about an air-air missile with a top speed of Mach 10 and with a range of something like 500-600 km's, that should just about do it.
 

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How about an air-air missile with a top speed of Mach 10 and with a range of something like 500-600 km's, that should just about do it.
It would be nice if you could target the enemy planes from that range but then there is also a cash attrition ratio. A Mach 10 AAM capable of 600km might cost almost as much as the aircraft it's trying to shoot down.
 

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I can see your point Forest Green, I did not realize such a missile would cost so much. I was just day dreaming.
 

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I can see your point Forest Green, I did not realize such a missile would cost so much. I was just day dreaming.
I don't know it the cost ratio is a fact or not but such a missile wouldn't be small or cheap and unmanned assets may be a cheaper and more survivable option.

We've kind of strayed off-topic here though.
 

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How about an air-air missile with a top speed of Mach 10 and with a range of something like 500-600 km's, that should just about do it.
Will barely make sence, especially range part. You CAN do such missile, but it will use it's potential of the full in EXTREMELY rare ocassions, thus rendering inevitable huge cost being spent into nothing.
 

sferrin

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We don't even know what it's range is.
Indeed, but from what we heard before (120 replacement, proper internal carry) I think expecting more than 200km is quite a bit optimistic
Maybe you could get there with a CUDA mounted on an 8"dia. booster, depending on the flight profile. We''l just have to see. Given the AIM-120D is credited with a 180km range it would hardly seem worth the effort to make a new program just for 20km more.

What would you consider a "proper" LRAAM?
Something big, fast and drastically outranging AAMs of tech class. R-37/37M for example.
How likely are you to run into the R-37M over the Pacific?
 

GARGEAN

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Maybe you could get there with a CUDA mounted on an 8"dia. booster, depending on the flight profile. We''l just have to see. Given the AIM-120D is credited with a 180km range it would hardly seem worth the effort to make a new program just for 20km more.
Oh yes. Aside the problem that 120D is not "credited" with 180km.
How likely are you to run into the R-37M over the Pacific?
Are you creating missiles for one specific theater?
 

sferrin

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Maybe you could get there with a CUDA mounted on an 8"dia. booster, depending on the flight profile. We''l just have to see. Given the AIM-120D is credited with a 180km range it would hardly seem worth the effort to make a new program just for 20km more.
Oh yes. Aside the problem that 120D is not "credited" with 180km.
How likely are you to run into the R-37M over the Pacific?
Are you creating missiles for one specific theater?
No. It sounds like you are though.
 

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In the absence of a directly equivalent role or need (with similar assumptions of lack of opposing fighters) not seeing a driver for any of the existing US bombers to pick up such a role;
Cruise missile defense. A pretty strong driver and an abundantly urgent need.
 

NeilChapman

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... only the B-52 likely to live long enough for any major hardware changes to be worth while anyway. And the B-2 would appear highly mismatched for this role.

Re: the B-21 seems potentially a very risky tasking for such a high value asset (that will also be highly tasked in its actual intended role); if this air-to-air arsenal role is 100 percent needed then surely better done by less expensive more expendable and tailored UCAVs and the like.
I think it's good to note that we're not talking about a fight today. It does matter when this engagement is taking place. In 2025 there are no B-21's. In 2030 there are potentially a couple of squadrons of B-21's. The role of the B-2 likely changes as B-21's come online.

To what major hardware changes are you referring?

You assume only a single role? It seems more likely to expect "any sensor, any shooter", "engage on remote" or inter service machine to machine communication of targeting data will increase. There are new missiles in the pipeline so can we not expect additional new stand-off weapons will be produced in the future?

--

Squadrons of bombers carrying mixes of ARRW's, HCSW's, JASSM-XR's, or even SM-6 Block 1B's, all currently in development, should offer a significant range of offensive and defensive capabilities. Range being myriad options for combatant commanders as well as distance. Published expectations for some of these weapons are 500 nmi for the hypersonic ARRW and supersonic SM-6 Block 1B, and 1000 nmi for the subsonic JASSM-XR.

From B-21, up front and in the thick of things, these are significant ranges. But why expose the B-21? Launch these missiles from the several hundred miles to the rear and let the B-21, PCA or F-35 guide it in.
 

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If all you need is a missile truck to lob missiles, why keep the B-52s around? Why not replace them with a KC-46 derivative? Its just as stealthy as a B-52 (probably more so) and will be much cheaper to maintain in the long run, while lowering the price on the KC-46s.
 
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