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Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

Josh_TN

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If nothing else, the ‘new’ design sheds weight by adopting the original diamond tail of the ATB instead of the low altitude saw tooth tail. That and I would imagine modern materials and design would shave some weigh compared to the B-2. We all agree it will lighter with less payload; we just seem to disagree on the importance. I agree with above post that B-21s will probably serve as almost more a fighter bomber role in a conflict when it is in service in numbers. I somewhat doubt it will be more forward based than current bombers, however.
 

jsport

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If nothing else, the ‘new’ design sheds weight by adopting the original diamond tail of the ATB instead of the low altitude saw tooth tail. That and I would imagine modern materials and design would shave some weigh compared to the B-2. We all agree it will lighter with less payload; we just seem to disagree on the importance. I agree with above post that B-21s will probably serve as almost more a fighter bomber role in a conflict when it is in service in numbers. I somewhat doubt it will be more forward based than current bombers, however.
Any fighter bomber needs a low altitude option and high dynamic maneuver. NGs purposed 6th Gen fighter might fit that bill. NG 6th G is a BWB but should consider varible geometry of some type morphing or mechanical for low slow. F-22 can fly at 86mph but it cant at just above treetops. USAF has abandoned low altit infil at its own detriment.
 

NeilChapman

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... I somewhat doubt it will be more forward based than current bombers, however.
Are any forward-based? The bombers are continually forward-deployed. I wouldn't be surprised to see more forward-deployments with additional upgrades to logistic support facilities maintained for US bombers.

The Marine's have proposed to reduce their air component. They'll be looking for the AF to be close.
 

Josh_TN

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There’s generally a six plane detachment at Al Udied and another at Guam. Sometimes more are surged or sent to other locations such as Fairford or Diego. My point about forward basing was in regards to proximity to opponents. For instance, I can’t see B-21s being based at Kadena because that puts them in easy SRBM range. So while there may be more B-21s and they may take on missions more akin to strike/interdiction aircraft (F-15E), I don’t see them being based any closer than legacy heavy bombers.
 

totoro

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There’s generally a six plane detachment at Al Udied and another at Guam. Sometimes more are surged or sent to other locations such as Fairford or Diego. My point about forward basing was in regards to proximity to opponents. For instance, I can’t see B-21s being based at Kadena because that puts them in easy SRBM range. So while there may be more B-21s and they may take on missions more akin to strike/interdiction aircraft (F-15E), I don’t see them being based any closer than legacy heavy bombers.
Since Kadena was mentioned, the unmentioned enemy in question in the post above is likely China. And if so, war against China would be a war where Japan would be made, one way or the other, to participate. So suddenly there's not just Kadena but dozens of other sites across Japan that might house B-21.

And if there's going to be war against China, many new airbases would be constructed. The Guam area alone has several islands with existing runways that could be expanded into airbases. And it's certainly easier and quicker to establish a base for tactical planes or even B-21 than for B-2 planes.
 

Josh_TN

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I suspect any war between the US and China would be brief and largely a ‘come as you are’ affair. Both sides can bring a lot of PGMs to bear on each other, even assuming fighting remained conventional. I doubt there would be remotely even time to construct anything, though existing civilian airports could adopted relatively easily if they had sufficient facilities. But it would make more sense to keep extremely long ranged types farther afield and it seems likely B-21 will have range similar to B-2 given the more aerodynamic design and modern engines/materials.
 

rooster

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If nothing else, the ‘new’ design sheds weight by adopting the original diamond tail of the ATB instead of the low altitude saw tooth tail. That and I would imagine modern materials and design would shave some weigh compared to the B-2. We all agree it will lighter with less payload; we just seem to disagree on the importance. I agree with above post that B-21s will probably serve as almost more a fighter bomber role in a conflict when it is in service in numbers. I somewhat doubt it will be more forward based than current bombers, however.
Fighter bomber? Never. If the usaf develops a very long ranged aam that can get targeting info from tbd satellites or f35s, then perhaps. But the usaf won't waste NBC hardened 100+ airframes on anti air. Maybe if they buy enough then it can take over for the mudhen in some scenarios.
 

Josh_TN

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Poor choice of words on my part; by fighter bomber I meant the interdiction/strike role. F-111 or F15E. I agree it won’t be used for air to air, though it wouldn’t shock me if it had a couple bays for short range AAMs/ARMs for self defense.
 

Foo Fighter

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Perhaps the problem is in the terms used for aircraft being rather old hat and dated. Strike aircraft would perhaps be a better term than the more common bomber descriptive.
 

rooster

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It seems a little smallish for those extra bays holding anti missile missiles or amraams. Then again the avenger had 2 small missiles bays for harm... So maybe.

I think the problem with using the raider as a strike aircraft is that its the typical set of pearls too expensive to wear. We need a true long range dedicated strike aircraft.
 

Sundog

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Re: Capability

The B-21 can hit targets the B-2 can't, because the B-2 would be at risk. It doesn't matter how much more you think a B-2 can carry or how much farther you think it can fly if it can't get to the target. Otherwise, if this is just about what we can carry and how far, we should just be buying more B-52s.
 

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A deep magazine defense DEW alone likely requires a larger craft. DEW not stealth is the likely key to future survivability. Repeating.. DMS-M problems and associated counter-stealth will likely render stealth less and less a real factor.
It is obvious that the B-21 isn't designed for a heavy DEW paradigm and the concept is like likely premature for developing aircraft for near future service at this point. The key technologies is still evolving fast and the countermeasures (which will determine whether the system is general purpose or one time bump) not even started being developed.

DEW have relatively poor synergy with aircraft anyways. We'd be expecting pitches for invulnerable laser/microwave battleships before DEW dependent aircraft. Aircraft is about mobility and the ability to disengage. I'd expect to see DEW softkill as "enhanced jamming" far before hard kill, and such DEW platforms as separate from other aircraft as it is itself high emissions but can help in the survivability of other lower observability aircraft..
 

rooster

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Was not Tacit Blue an experiment in some kind of early DEW tech (plus of course battlefield surveillance) ?
 

sferrin

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Re: Capability

The B-21 can hit targets the B-2 can't, because the B-2 would be at risk. It doesn't matter how much more you think a B-2 can carry or how much farther you think it can fly if it can't get to the target. Otherwise, if this is just about what we can carry and how far, we should just be buying more B-52s.
Nobody is debating that. What has been going on for pages and pages is that somebody claimed NO capability was lost between the B-2 and B-21. Payload IS a capability. So unless the B-21 has the payload of a B-2 then capability IS being lost.
 

sferrin

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I think some of you are seeing a balanced equation when us see an Heaviside curve: before, there is nothing to score untill there is a threshold of capability.
Don't understand why some are so desperate to avoid admitting the B-21 is almost certainly less capable than the B-2 is some regards. Hell, I'll bet the same people don't have a problem admitting the B-2 is less capable than the B-52 in some regards. Reality is your friend.
 

rooster

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I feel the 21 was designed to be palatable to Congress with a lower cost than something bigger with 2 more engines and a bigger payload. There really was no reason to build something smaller than the already compact 2 other than to have a lower cost. But now they need more 21s to make up for that fact. I don't know how going to a smaller payload makes the aircraft better. The point of a bomber is to haul stuff from A to B.
 

bobbymike

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I feel the 21 was designed to be palatable to Congress with a lower cost than something bigger with 2 more engines and a bigger payload. There really was no reason to build something smaller than the already compact 2 other than to have a lower cost. But now they need more 21s to make up for that fact. I don't know how going to a smaller payload makes the aircraft better. The point of a bomber is to haul stuff from A to B.
Heck just pass a B-21 stimulus at $2.2 trillion and buy 4000 o_O
 

_Del_

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Alternatively, if you can purchase and operate two or more B-21's for each B-2 you can retire, then if we assume the B-21 hauls half as much, you haven't lost hauling capability in terms of potential force projection. If it carries 2/3's as much, then your ability to put tonnage on targets as an operational force increases, even if the Raider is "less capable" as an individual airframe.

Would it be better if it carried more? Sure. It'd also be significantly more expensive and under a more intensive gaze from Congress. Is a beefier, more heavily-loaded B-whatever still "more capable" if we only buy another two dozen?

We're really just parsing words and definitions at this point. Is it "less capable" in terms of payload? Sure. Does that support some blanket assertion that replacing B-2's with B-21's will result in a strategic bomber force with "less capability"? Not at all, really...
 

sferrin

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Alternatively, if you can purchase and operate two or more B-21's for each B-2 you can retire, then if we assume the B-21 hauls half as much, you haven't lost hauling capability in terms of potential force projection. If it carries 2/3's as much, then your ability to put tonnage on targets as an operational force increases, even if the Raider is "less capable" as an individual airframe.

Would it be better if it carried more? Sure. It'd also be significantly more expensive and under a more intensive gaze from Congress. Is a beefier, more heavily-loaded B-whatever still "more capable" if we only buy another two dozen?

We're really just parsing words and definitions at this point. Is it "less capable" in terms of payload? Sure. Does that support some blanket assertion that replacing B-2's with B-21's will result in a strategic bomber force with "less capability"? Not at all, really...
Assuming they buy and support enough of them. Say the B-21 has half the payload (but a large enough bay to carry the GBU-57). If they buy twice as many, and they aren't losing range, then yeah, that would be a better fleet than the B-2.
 

Foo Fighter

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Is that not the point over an unrealistic expectation of 1:1 parity or better with the new aircraft. I would not put any final number on the acquisition yet either, especially with what is going on globally,
 

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If you believe this article some of the heavy lifting will be done by the arsenal plane which would allow the B-21 to conduct the surgical strikes. Some have suggested that the arsenal plane be a Blended Wing Body aircraft with a modicum of stealth. Call it semi-stealthy but enough to get close for the launch of stand-off weapons.

 

_Del_

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I'm sure they'll have no problems pushing two concurrent bomber development/acquisition projects through Congress...
 

sferrin

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I'm sure they'll have no problems pushing two concurrent bomber development/acquisition projects through Congress...
I agree (although it's not unprecedented).
 

Mark S.

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Think Congress rightly would see the arsenal plane as a B-52 replacement. Wouldn't start any program of record until the last B-52 had been re-engined and it's radar replaced. If they would wait until the hypersonic weapons mature a bit think they would have a smaller more capable aircraft. As we have seen with the AGM-182 being canceled for size and the push for the AGM-183 the hypersonic systems will gain in capability and decrease in size over the next 10 years. That coupled with the future LRSO and JASSM-XR will define the size and performance of the aircraft.
 

bring_it_on

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If you believe this article some of the heavy lifting will be done by the arsenal plane which would allow the B-21 to conduct the surgical strikes. Some have suggested that the arsenal plane be a Blended Wing Body aircraft with a modicum of stealth. Call it semi-stealthy but enough to get close for the launch of stand-off weapons.

It would work only if the AF lists the programs or capabilities that it would be prepared to shed in order to pay for it.
 

sferrin

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Think Congress rightly would see the arsenal plane as a B-52 replacement. Wouldn't start any program of record until the last B-52 had been re-engined and it's radar replaced. If they would wait until the hypersonic weapons mature a bit think they would have a smaller more capable aircraft. As we have seen with the AGM-182 being canceled for size and the push for the AGM-183 the hypersonic systems will gain in capability and decrease in size over the next 10 years. That coupled with the future LRSO and JASSM-XR will define the size and performance of the aircraft.
Where did you get "AGM-182" from?
 

rooster

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Think Congress rightly would see the arsenal plane as a B-52 replacement. Wouldn't start any program of record until the last B-52 had been re-engined and it's radar replaced. If they would wait until the hypersonic weapons mature a bit think they would have a smaller more capable aircraft. As we have seen with the AGM-182 being canceled for size and the push for the AGM-183 the hypersonic systems will gain in capability and decrease in size over the next 10 years. That coupled with the future LRSO and JASSM-XR will define the size and performance of the aircraft.
An aircraft the size of the 2 would carry more of those weapons and attack more targets than 21 can. See how the numbers work out? Instead of sending 3 or 4 of the 21, the US would save money by sending out the typical 2 ship strike package and not need to risk 3 or 4 along with less tanker support and expenditures.
 

Tuna

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An aircraft the size of the 2 would carry more of those weapons and attack more targets than 21 can. See how the numbers work out? Instead of sending 3 or 4 of the 21, the US would save money by sending out the typical 2 ship strike package and not need to risk 3 or 4 along with less tanker support and expenditures.
This assumes that:

1. 2 of the larger bombers would not be more expensive than 3-4 of the smaller ones
2. That they would not consume just as much support.
3. That there are enough missions where 2 smaller bombers do not carry enough payload to justify making larger ones.

I think all three assumptions are dubious. After a certain point, as size goes up and production numbers go down, cost of both manufacture and upkeep goes up rapidly and non-linearly. The clipped production run of the B-2 was a harsh lesson on that, and I think that the Air Force learned it well. Furthermore, improvements in accuracy have dramatically brought down the size of bombs that are used. For CAS, single 285lb SDBs are now routinely used in situations that would have warranted multiple much heavier bombs in past wars.

The kind of situations where two B-21 bomb bays full of SDBs are no longer enough are also the kind of situations where you are very glad to have more redundancy in your fleet, because you are pretty much fighting all-out against China or Russia (or both) and are going to take casualties.
 

Mark S.

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The arsenal plane won't have the stealth that the B-21 has nor be as survivable. As they have been talking it will probably be as stealthy as the B-1B or a little bit better. The rational is to produce an affordable aircraft to supplement the B-21. This aircraft will use stand-off weapons in lieu of stealth to make it's strikes. The greater cost of stand-off weapons would for prolonged use evaporate any cost advantage it would have over the B-21.
 

bring_it_on

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Assuming the B-21 meets its cost targets, which looks quite possible given what we've heard so far, I think they need to concentrate on buying as many as they can and sustaining that production program for the next 15-20 years. They really need to look at getting to a 10-12 aircraft/year program by the late 2020's/early 2030's. With budgets likely to remain flat (or even decrease) in the coming years it would be beneficial to get more from the programs that are delivering or getting ready to deliver compared to introducing additional cost/schedule risk into the bomber portfolio.
 

dark sidius

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Or an arsenal plane could replace futur NGAD program, a new type of aircraft some sort of modern B1-B, full loading of long range air-air missile and UAV wingman could be the USAF reponse of air-air dominance for the futur, we will be no need of dogfighting fighter... With all of the NGAD budget could go to this kind of plane, and with 1 Billion by year it could become reality. Dual role long range strike and long range anti-air, with hypersonic weapon could be the ultimate plane in inventory.
 

Josh_TN

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There will be no other bomber program outside of the B-21. There is no funding and AFAIK little interest for an arsenal plane.
 
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