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Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

FighterJock

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TomS

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December 2021 here we come....

December 2021? That is strange that they have gone for a first flight during the winter, I would have thought that June or July would have been better. Any one know how cold it gets at Edwards Air Force Base in December?
The B-2 first flight was in July but the B-1 was also in December. The weather isn't a significant factor in deciding when first flight is, other than obviously avoiding specific days with inclement weather. Daytime highs average around 60F, lows average around 30F. Not terribly extreme at all.
 
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FighterJock

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December 2021 here we come....

December 2021? That is strange that they have gone for a first flight during the winter, I would have thought that June or July would have been better. Any one know how cold it gets at Edwards Air Force Base in December?
The B-2 first flight was in July but the B-1 was also in December. The weather isn't a significant factor in deciding when first flight is, other than obviously avoiding specific days with inclement weather. Daytime nights average around 60F, lows average around 30F. Not terribly extreme at all.
Thanks for the weather information regarding Edwards Air Force Base TomS.
 

NeilChapman

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Interesting news but not unexpected.


Here's a hypothetical exercise to see what B-21 procurement might look like based on the info available today.

Since we're talking integration and production of existing tech we'll assume there are mostly F-35 systems
and sensors on the new bomber. My point being that flight testing will be just that - flight and integration
testing. Not so much testing of new systems. The decade of F-35 testing will transfer to B-21.

Here are some examples of possible B-21 systems that might be reused from F-35

Dry version of F135 engineP&W listed as Sub for B-21
CNI Avionics on F-35NG - This includes MADL and sensor fusion. B-21 talks cleanly w/F-35.
AESA Radar on F-35NG
DAS on F-35Originally NG but dropped for Raytheon starting in 2023. Let's hope they fixed the lens problem or perhaps the USAF will specify the change to Raytheon?
EOTS from F-35LM - not listed as a supplier but doesn't the USAF own the technology?


Could they use large portions of F-35 code for B-21 since they are working on Block 4 already? Perhaps someone here knows?

If the stars align, maybe flight testing will go "head-spinning-ly" quickly and they move to building operational
air vehicles within two years. With the recent news concerning production funding in '22 it leads me to believe
the USAF wants to accelerate the completion of the EMD program.

With all those caveats, maybe the next few years looks something like this.


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
~6.13B spent
through 2018
$2.3B2019AV-1Test
$3.0B2020AV-2 and AV-3Test


In Q1 2021, by historical reference, we expect roll-out and ground testing to begin since 1st flight is Dec '21.
This would mean that NG keeps all AV's under wraps throughout 2020.


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
$3.1B FYDP2021AV-4 and AV-5Pre-First Flight - Upgrade later


AV-1 or AV-2 first flight in December 2021. AV-2 through AV-5 leave for Edwards throughout 2022 as they are finished.
Block 10 build is locked down in 2021. I believe I recall seeing that the first lot is development and consists of 5 air
vehicles so the math works. USAF projecting procurement funding to begin in '22.

Production increase from 2 to 3 air vehicles for 2022


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
$0.2B FYDP$3.1B FYDP2022AV-6 through AV-810LRIP-1


During 2022, B-21 begins operational training as Block 10 air vehicles become available and are
flown to Edwards throughout the year.

It's a very interesting that procurement spending is projected for '22 - '24. These are most likely
long lead time purchases but the big $$ makes me think they are planning for early completion
of the EMD contract. This $$ allows them to finish the EMD contract in FY2024 w/all 20 bombers
completed and begin production of 8 bombers per year starting in 2025.

Production increase from 3 to 5 for 2023


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
$2.4B FYDP$2.7B FYDP2023AV-9 through AV-1310LRIP-2/3


It's been mentioned that FRP target is 8 bombers per year. At ~$700M each that's $5.6B per year. If you
add the '22-'24 procurement $$ you get $5.9B. That provides the budget for qty 8 bombers to be
purchased in 2025 w/a budget of ~$5.9 each year after. A squadron per year.

Production increases from 5 to 7 for 2024.


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
$3.3B FYDP$2.3B FYDP2024AV-14 through AV-2010LRIP-3/4/5


IOC sometime in 2025 with at least 8 bombers and one trainer. With this accelerated EMD contract
completion there could be almost twice that number. This ends the EMD contract.

Production increases from 7 to 8 for 2025.


Procurement $ in BudgetDev $ in BudgetBy DecemberAir Vehicles CompletedBlock No.Production Lot
$5.9B2025AV-21 through AV-2810FRP-1
$5.9B2026AV-29 through AV-3610FRP-2
$5.9BNUC in 20272027AV-37 through AV-4420FRP-3
$5.9B2028AV-45 through AV-5220FRP-4
$5.9B2029AV-53 through AV-6020FRP-5


In my exercise, best case scenario is 57 bombers by 2030. Six operational squadrons and a training
squadron. These are huge procurement numbers. No wonder the USAF wants to stop funding the
B-1 asap. Maybe they're speculating that the external threats will grow significantly between 2030
and 2040. In the mean time, they can save the B-1 upgrade $$ for B-21.
 
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jsport

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Hail Hal

kidding aside, B-21 pilots in adversary cages awaiting torture is not an "existential idea" for the the US or the pilots.
 

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Sounds like prototype components are starting to get assembled into a whole aircraft. Obviously a painfully slow process since the December 2021 first flight date was labelled as unsure.
 

FighterJock

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Sounds like prototype components are starting to get assembled into a whole aircraft. Obviously a painfully slow process since the December 2021 first flight date was labelled as unsure.
So it looks like the first flight could be put back a few months into 2022, that would be the best solution if Northrop are struggling with production of components for the B-21
 

Foo Fighter

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The first flight will be when the airframe is properly ready, is that not better than rushing the job?
 

FighterJock

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The first flight will be when the airframe is properly ready, is that not better than rushing the job?
I would like Northrop to take their time over the B-21 production and not try to rush the building of the first prototype because that is when problems start to happen.
 

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I find it surprising that a classified program is going to have a public unveiling according to that article before it has even flown.
 

In_A_Dream

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I find it surprising that a classified program is going to have a public unveiling according to that article before it has even flown.
Well it's not an operationally classified aircraft like some of the ISR ones, but its capabilities are definitely classified, some sharing commonality with the F-35. A lot of the systems have probably been tested on plenty of demonstrators over the years (and implemented on other aircraft) and perfecting a LO design isn't that difficult with modern computers and years of understanding. Since the USAF is the only one with their hand in the cookie jar and the Northrop folks are Gods of the Flying Wing world, this will probably fair better than projects in the past. And it really needs to, we don't have a choice anymore.
 

donnage99

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Since the USAF is the only one with their hand in the cookie jar and the Northrop folks are Gods of the Flying Wing world, this will probably fair better than projects in the past.
Even with all the know-how of each isolated technology, system integration is usually where the challenge is and where engineers filing for divorce. So this thing is just as susceptible to delay and cost overruns as any othe programs.
 

Flyaway

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Since the USAF is the only one with their hand in the cookie jar and the Northrop folks are Gods of the Flying Wing world, this will probably fair better than projects in the past.
Even with all the know-how of each isolated technology, system integration is usually where the challenge is and where engineers filing for divorce. So this thing is just as susceptible to delay and cost overruns as any othe programs.
You’d think they’d be leveraging lessons learnt with the RQ-180 in some areas and vice versa.
 

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You’d think they’d be leveraging lessons learnt with the RQ-180 in some areas and vice versa.
Yes, I thought that's why they chose Northrop for the B-21 because their offering wasn't as exotic as what was pitched by the other primes.
 

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I seriously doubt we will sell anyone else the B-21. Having said that, I can see the USAF basing some B-21s in Australia.
 

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I seriously doubt we will sell anyone else the B-21. Having said that, I can see the USAF basing some B-21s in Australia.
An Australian buy doesn’t appear very likely.
Australia would be doing well to sustain it’s current level of defense expenditure; the required options massive hike for B-21s or ripping it out of the guts of every other Australian defense program would appear to be remote possibilities.
 

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I seriously doubt we will sell anyone else the B-21. Having said that, I can see the USAF basing some B-21s in Australia.
Given the 'Earth Covered Magazine' line entry for Tindall in the latest image posted in the F15 thread, I would say that basing in Aus. is a certainty at some point.
 

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Wouldn’t it likely end up being like the F-22 not permissible to sell abroad.


This article posted above also talks about the U.K. as well as Australia.
 
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Flyaway

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The articles seem to perceive the B-21 as being more like the F-111 in its function. In which case I can understand more their logic in thinking other countries might want to buy it. TBH providing the allies are sufficiently trusted I don’t see why they shouldn’t sell it to other countries especially if it helps with the costs.
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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The articles seem to perceive the B-21 as being more like the F-111 in its function. In which case I can understand more their logic in thinking other countries might want to buy it. TBH providing the allies are sufficiently trusted I don’t see why they shouldn’t sell it to other countries especially if it helps with the costs.
Japanese could trade radius for deeper magazines of anti-ship and land attack munitions, where the Aussies would use excess weapons bay space for fuel. The Chinese influence on Australia is highly problematic though.
 

Flyaway

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The articles seem to perceive the B-21 as being more like the F-111 in its function. In which case I can understand more their logic in thinking other countries might want to buy it. TBH providing the allies are sufficiently trusted I don’t see why they shouldn’t sell it to other countries especially if it helps with the costs.
Japanese could trade radius for deeper magazines of anti-ship and land attack munitions, where the Aussies would use excess weapons bay space for fuel. The Chinese influence on Australia is highly problematic though.
Chinese influence on Australia?
 

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I seriously doubt we will sell anyone else the B-21. Having said that, I can see the USAF basing some B-21s in Australia.
I don't know about permanent basing but I don't believe there are US bombers "based" at Andersen either and they seem to be there on a continuous 6 month rotation. Also, there is a munitions storage as well as a fuel storage limitation on Guam. As a continent, instead of an island, theoretically those limitations do not exist in Australia. One would think that a potential peer-to-peer engagement would require an abundant magazine as well as fuel tank. And there is that huge range. There will be any number of like-minded pacific rim countries that will want to train together - especially those flying the F-35. Down under will be a convenient place to meet.

I agree we'll see many more training rotations through Australia.
 

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Well Australia has been buying almost every key US aircraft system so far such as Super Hornet, Growler, Lightning II, Triton and other US-developed systems like Wedgetail, MC-55A Peregrine and the Boeing Australia loyal wingman project. So buying the B-21 wouldn't be a stretch security-wise, but fiscally it might be too ambitious.

Interesting if Britain is in the fray too, the B-21 would seem rather ambitious as a Tornado replacement and I doubt the MoD would get funds for more than half-a-dozen.
 

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Interesting if Britain is in the fray too, the B-21 would seem rather ambitious as a Tornado replacement and I doubt the MoD would get funds for more than half-a-dozen.
If they buy the B-21, they'd need the F-35A to provide cover for it and they certainly won't get the funds for both. It's a nice thought though.
 

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Well Australia has been buying almost every key US aircraft system so far such as Super Hornet, Growler, Lightning II, Triton and other US-developed systems like Wedgetail, MC-55A Peregrine and the Boeing Australia loyal wingman project. So buying the B-21 wouldn't be a stretch security-wise, but fiscally it might be too ambitious.

Interesting if Britain is in the fray too, the B-21 would seem rather ambitious as a Tornado replacement and I doubt the MoD would get funds for more than half-a-dozen.
TBH highly unlikely ...more chance of UK purchasing the airworthy F-117A. Anyhow UK has been out of the strategic bomber mission since the early 80s. Doubt very much we could get back int hat game. Yes I know Tornado crews Been on exchange with 509th Flying the B-2A for near decade..

plus the USA haven’t exported likes of B-52, B-1 or B-2 so why would they want to export high tech state of the art stealth bomber? Even if it’s us their closest allies.

Say in theory , MoD purchased B-21....where could we base them? let’s look at former V Force bases .Only so many bases can handle strategic bombers...one is RAF Marham as they had Buffs deploy in 70s to early 80s.

Waddington is busy and has no space due ISTAR assets such as E-3D (and soon to be E-7A Wedgetail), then throw in the mix of R1 Shadow and Sentinel, RC-135 Rivet Joint.

Wyton..forget it....runway long gone, and main base is a spook base ...JARiC etc.

Wittering forget it... got UAS and flying training squadrons equipped with Grob Tutors.

Bsocombe Down has nice long runway, and plenty of space apart from QinetiQ Wmpire Test Pilots School and other test squadrons. Probably the odd black project,

Scampton ..home of the Red Arrows And on the closure list. Tbh the base is run down as I saw it two years ago during the one and only airshow held there.

cheers
 

coanda

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The UK can't afford the B21 even if it was on offer. We'll have an exchange crew. I expect we'll see them operating out of RAF Fairford, and, if, in some weird future where we did buy some, I imagine they'd be operated from Fairford too.
 

Hood

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TBH highly unlikely ...more chance of UK purchasing the airworthy F-117A. Anyhow UK has been out of the strategic bomber mission since the early 80s. Doubt very much we could get back int hat game. Yes I know Tornado crews Been on exchange with 509th Flying the B-2A for near decade..
I don't seriously suggest it would be likely. The mission, support logistics and money just aren't there. The article Flyaway linked is a journalist's speculation that the UK could get involved.
 

Flyaway

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Well Australia has been buying almost every key US aircraft system so far such as Super Hornet, Growler, Lightning II, Triton and other US-developed systems like Wedgetail, MC-55A Peregrine and the Boeing Australia loyal wingman project. So buying the B-21 wouldn't be a stretch security-wise, but fiscally it might be too ambitious.

Interesting if Britain is in the fray too, the B-21 would seem rather ambitious as a Tornado replacement and I doubt the MoD would get funds for more than half-a-dozen.
TBH highly unlikely ...more chance of UK purchasing the airworthy F-117A. Anyhow UK has been out of the strategic bomber mission since the early 80s. Doubt very much we could get back int hat game. Yes I know Tornado crews Been on exchange with 509th Flying the B-2A for near decade..

plus the USA haven’t exported likes of B-52, B-1 or B-2 so why would they want to export high tech state of the art stealth bomber? Even if it’s us their closest allies.

Say in theory , MoD purchased B-21....where could we base them? let’s look at former V Force bases .Only so many bases can handle strategic bombers...one is RAF Marham as they had Buffs deploy in 70s to early 80s.

Waddington is busy and has no space due ISTAR assets such as E-3D (and soon to be E-7A Wedgetail), then throw in the mix of R1 Shadow and Sentinel, RC-135 Rivet Joint.

Wyton..forget it....runway long gone, and main base is a spook base ...JARiC etc.

Wittering forget it... got UAS and flying training squadrons equipped with Grob Tutors.

Bsocombe Down has nice long runway, and plenty of space apart from QinetiQ Wmpire Test Pilots School and other test squadrons. Probably the odd black project,

Scampton ..home of the Red Arrows And on the closure list. Tbh the base is run down as I saw it two years ago during the one and only airshow held there.

cheers
You seem to forget that we are the only operator outside of the US of the Rivet Joint. So we do have form of operating unique aircraft in the UK. Which you would think wouldn’t be exported outside the US.
 

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Well Australia has been buying almost every key US aircraft system so far such as Super Hornet, Growler, Lightning II, Triton and other US-developed systems like Wedgetail, MC-55A Peregrine and the Boeing Australia loyal wingman project. So buying the B-21 wouldn't be a stretch security-wise, but fiscally it might be too ambitious.

Interesting if Britain is in the fray too, the B-21 would seem rather ambitious as a Tornado replacement and I doubt the MoD would get funds for more than half-a-dozen.
TBH highly unlikely ...more chance of UK purchasing the airworthy F-117A. Anyhow UK has been out of the strategic bomber mission since the early 80s. Doubt very much we could get back int hat game. Yes I know Tornado crews Been on exchange with 509th Flying the B-2A for near decade..

plus the USA haven’t exported likes of B-52, B-1 or B-2 so why would they want to export high tech state of the art stealth bomber? Even if it’s us their closest allies.

Say in theory , MoD purchased B-21....where could we base them? let’s look at former V Force bases .Only so many bases can handle strategic bombers...one is RAF Marham as they had Buffs deploy in 70s to early 80s.

Waddington is busy and has no space due ISTAR assets such as E-3D (and soon to be E-7A Wedgetail), then throw in the mix of R1 Shadow and Sentinel, RC-135 Rivet Joint.

Wyton..forget it....runway long gone, and main base is a spook base ...JARiC etc.

Wittering forget it... got UAS and flying training squadrons equipped with Grob Tutors.

Bsocombe Down has nice long runway, and plenty of space apart from QinetiQ Wmpire Test Pilots School and other test squadrons. Probably the odd black project,

Scampton ..home of the Red Arrows And on the closure list. Tbh the base is run down as I saw it two years ago during the one and only airshow held there.

cheers
You seem to forget that we are the only operator outside of the US of the Rivet Joint. So we do have form of operating unique aircraft in the UK. Which you would think wouldn’t be exported outside the US.
True, so how come we were not offered the B-2 Spirit? Now I did read somewhere and there is a famous book on unbuilt or what if Aviation projects where B-1B was offered to us. And there are several artists impressions of B-@B in RAF colours.

I also came across reports of Brit voices being heard over the ‘Box’ / Dreamland chatter with unknown airframes testing.

And as everyone knows .from the time two ETPS grads flew the 117A. One of said pair appeared in BBC1 Test Pilot series who flew Buccaneers and joined the Number 44 fixed wing course, (his preview was the Admirals Barge F/A-18B at Pax River) won the McKEnna Troohy...then got offered to fly F-117A In 85/86 few years before first RAF exchange Pilot did his 3 year tour.

likewise Reagan offered us the 117A then the Bush administration offered it again post Desert Storm But spot Cold War and the funding was not there.

Cheers
 

Mark S.

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Seeing that the B-2 along with the B-52 are both counted in the New Start treaty how would the B-21 be treated especially if Australia and or the United Kingdom flew them? Would those two countries need to be included in the treaty? How would an opponent know in a time of crisis the nationally of a B-21 headed their way and whether or not it had nukes on board? The last heavy bomber the U.S. exported was the B-29. I don't see the B-21 being exported.
 
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