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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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