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Northrop Grumman B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

Josh_TN

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That would be some really good news if the program seemed successfully mature that even token amounts of funds were moved to production. I don't track the finances of projects at different stages of their development well, but I suspect there are people here that do. That step seems...a little unprecedented in the modern age of US defense programs. Is this just some accounting slay of hand that typically happens?
 

_Del_

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Probably helps getting subs lined up. Particularly those smaller ones who might be stressed right now. If you have small subs feeling the crunch right now, then it's better to start getting money for lead items now rather than wait and have one or more go under and then have to line up a new plan on the fly and face potential delays.
Hope springs eternal that maybe they'll be ahead of track, but I think it's probably more risk-avoidance.
 

TomcatViP

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“I am thoroughly impressed by the dedication and progress across the B-21 Raider team.” ( Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper)
[...]
“We’re excited to get the B-21 Raider to bases in the mid-2020s. The progress I saw today further adds to my confidence that the B-21 Raider will preserve our long range strike and penetrating bomber capability,” Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. said
 

FighterJock

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“I am thoroughly impressed by the dedication and progress across the B-21 Raider team.” ( Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper)
[...]
“We’re excited to get the B-21 Raider to bases in the mid-2020s. The progress I saw today further adds to my confidence that the B-21 Raider will preserve our long range strike and penetrating bomber capability,” Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. said
Good news for the B-21 Raider, to get praise like that so early on especially from the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command the eventual end users of the Raider will help move the program forward.:cool:
 

Foo Fighter

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I hope they do, I have a feeling they will be needed.
 

Bhurki

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First flight of the B-21 December 2021, let’s hope that nothing happens to the B-21 schedule between now and then.
Should probably get a glimpse of it in about a year while it conducts ground runs and other tests in the open.
 

Helix88

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I’m still trying to figure out what’s the most probable the exhaust setup, maybe similar to the trailing slots on the f-117?
 

Helix88

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Unlikely. Something like...
I guess the exact geometry is what they are trying to keep secret with leaving the exhaust out of any images released to the media then, It’s amazing what can be gleaned from a simple rendering.
 

Josh_TN

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I'm pretty sure no one is actually allowed to closely photograph a B-2 til this day. There are definitely shots from the rear quarter in the air mind you, but I think close pictures on the ground are still...discouraged.

As to the overall shape, its pretty clear in the B-2 and B-21 that it will reflect significantly in four quadrants and that all of the lines and shapes align at those angles. B-2's have to 'tack' into a radar environment to make sure none of those angles are perpendicular to an emitter. And from what I have heard, they weren't super successful in the whole 'detecting and plotting emitters' way; the defensive ESM apparently was problematic. I don't know if this is true, I've just heard rumors. But I will say given that they can now compress that tech into a fighter sized aircraft (F-35), the B-21 likely will have some unrivaled situational awareness. Some of of what I've read indicates that the USAF wants it not just to be a bomber but also a data node, because of being at high altitude and also presumably having a lot more surface area and distance to place various receivers across a wide band compared to a fighter sized airframe.
 

flateric

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I'm pretty sure no one is actually allowed to closely photograph a B-2 til this day. There are definitely shots from the rear quarter in the air mind you, but I think close pictures on the ground are still...discouraged.
There's no square inch of B-2 OML that was not shoot by DoD and media photogs in three decades of her history. She still holds her secrets under the skin and never was shot in 'unclean' configuration with, say, DMS antennas deployed though.
 

bobbymike

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Q-nimbus

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Found these pictures online. Haven’t seen them here, so apologies if they have been debunked already. I’m sceptical whether they’re real, but you guys can probably tell a lot more about that. Fake or not, I’m pretty sure they flew a prototype or demonstrator or two before NG got the contract. F245679E-9B54-4178-8906-20E220288F61.jpeg FC01AFB3-1371-4FFB-889E-B8589C0DEE78.jpeg
 

flateric

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Northrop didn't have to build a demonstrator for B-2 40 years ago, why should it build it now, taking into account giant leap CFD and other things made since then?
 

CiTrus90

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TomS

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Reverse image search on Google...
View attachment 639886

The second one, I'm 95% sure it's just photoshopped as well due to the amount of "grain" and artifacts.
I think it's a fuzzed PS of the B-2 flights to Korea with an F-16 flying chase. Something from the same flight as the picture here.

 

Q-nimbus

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I’m glad that’s sorted out. Of course, in this day and age, if something exotic is flying out there, even the most basic phones should make really sharp and clean pictures.

Apart from the pictures, do you guys think a demonstrator for the B21 was flown?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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I’m glad that’s sorted out. Of course, in this day and age, if something exotic is flying out there, even the most basic phones should make really sharp and clean pictures.

Apart from the pictures, do you guys think a demonstrator for the B21 was flown?
Demonstrator for B-21 was the B-2...
 

_Del_

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do you guys think a demonstrator for the B21 was flown?
Sure. Probably more than one.

The things that needed demonstrating weren't dependent on a B-21 shape. They would be demonstrating systems, not the airframe.
 

marauder2048

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CBO just released a report that estimated that the marginal cost (in FY20 $) for
a B-21 and 10 LRSOs is $500 million of which two LRSOs would be spares i.e.
the B-21 can carry 8 LRSOs. The carriage capacity is a guess on their part.


...or they say 8 x B61s. Which makes no sense.
So ignore them on payload but the pricing info is interesting.

https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2020-08/56475-START.pdf
 

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TomS

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the B-21 can carry 8 LRSOs
So, a single AF rotary launcher?
To be clear, this is totally a was by the authors.

For this analysis, CBO’s estimates of next-generation forces
incorporate the assumption that the B-21 bomber could carry
up to eight nuclear weapons, half the number that the B-2A
can carry. The actual number and types of nuclear weapons
the B-21 will carry have not been publicly disclosed. For a
public analysis of the potential capabilities of the B-21, see
David Cenciotti and Tom Denerly, “Let’s Have a Look at
the New B-21 ‘Raider’ Stealth Bomber Renderings the Air
Force Has Just Released,” The Aviationist (January 31, 2020),
.
 

Mr London 24/7

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Northrop didn't have to build a demonstrator for B-2 40 years ago, why should it build it now, taking into account giant leap CFD and other things made since then?
FWIW: since some years have passed - some years ago on FB a definite former Base Worker (by his associations and comments) made a comment in a private group (now removed - so I'm paraphrasing) along the lines of having been amused to see the Televised rollout of the B-2 since Northrop had been flying 'the same basic shape' out at the Ranch 'for years'.

Base workers apparently nicknamed the little Test Vehicle 'The Guppy' because of its ungainly appearance.

This was not TACIT BLUE.
 

rooster

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Northrop didn't have to build a demonstrator for B-2 40 years ago, why should it build it now, taking into account giant leap CFD and other things made since then?
FWIW: since some years have passed - some years ago on FB a definite former Base Worker (by his associations and comments) made a comment in a private group (now removed - so I'm paraphrasing) along the lines of having been amused to see the Televised rollout of the B-2 since Northrop had been flying 'the same basic shape' out at the Ranch 'for years'.

Base workers apparently nicknamed the little Test Vehicle 'The Guppy' because of its ungainly appearance.

This was not TACIT BLUE.
Something appeared in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries back in the 80s as a grainy video that was definitely not a F117 or Tacit Blue. It would be silly to assume the US with a long history or black aircraft stopped at the 117. Obviously as an engineer Northrop didn't hit a home run with the B2 without some subscale tests. You don't build a billion dollar bomber with a revolutionary shape and pray it works out. Computers in the late70s were not up to the task. Lockheed who relied on computers could only design flat plates... There was a guy on ATS named boomer137 with some credible posts.
 

In_A_Dream

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There are probably countless demonstrators/test A/C out at Groom, and when they're full up, they just bury them out back.
 

quellish

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It would be silly to assume the US with a long history or black aircraft stopped at the 117.
I do not think that anyone on this forum asserts that the United States - wether that means the Air Force or private companies - stopped conducting classified aircraft programs with SENIOR TREND. After all, TACIT BLUE, Bird of Prey, TEAL DAWN, RQ-170, and others came after SENIOR TREND.

There have also been quite a few that we are now pretty sure didn't exist. Like the "TR-3", which is well documented on their forum.

Obviously as an engineer Northrop didn't hit a home run with the B2 without some subscale tests. You don't build a billion dollar bomber with a revolutionary shape and pray it works out.
Do when you say "as an engineer Northrop" do you mean Jack Northrop? He had nothing to do with the design of the B-2.
What about the shape of the B-2 was revolutionary?
The B-2 designs were tested extensively in wind tunnels, both private and government owned. Same for RCS ranges. There was not much of a reason to fly "sub scale tests".

Computers in the late70s were not up to the task. Lockheed who relied on computers could only design flat plates... There was a guy on ATS named boomer137 with some credible posts.
Both Lockheed and Northrop used computers extensively - but not exclusively. Northrop had RCS prediction software much earlier than Lockheed did. Northrop's software was very good at predicting the RCS at lower frequencies. Lockheed's methods were better for higher frequencies. Each company used their software - and other methods - for the XST program. The specific requirements of the XST program favored higher frequencies (and thus Lockheed's methods). Northrop's XST, while very good at a wide range of frequencies, was not as good as Lockheed's at the frequencies in the requirements.

The B-21 is the result of many, many years of risk reduction under many different programs. NGB, LRS-B, etc. That risk reduction did result in demonstrators - ACCA, CalSpan automated refueling tests, and others.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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TACIT BLUE was the demonstrator for Northrop's RCS reduction techniques much like HAVE BLUE was for Lockheed.

Its possible there were as-yet-undisclosed unmanned subscale flying wing demonstrators for B-2, but what would be the motive for continuing to conceal them?

For B-21, it seems highly unlikely the aerodynamics were the thing needing demonstration.
 

seruriermarshal

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TACIT BLUE was the demonstrator for Northrop's RCS reduction techniques much like HAVE BLUE was for Lockheed.

Its possible there were as-yet-undisclosed unmanned subscale flying wing demonstrators for B-2, but what would be the motive for continuing to conceal them?

For B-21, it seems highly unlikely the aerodynamics were the thing needing demonstration.
Scaled Composites Model 401 ?
 

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shedofdread

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On a related note; in motorsport, parts are typically designed, tested in a CFD environment, then at [usually] 50% scale and again at 100%. At each stage, modifications have to be made as CFD, whilst useful is not a panacea. One of the 'holy grails' of motorsport aerodynamic is correlation.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I'd be astounded if there wasn't some flying hardware to support the programme.
 

Josh_TN

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The shape of the B-21 is pretty well known and understood aerodynamically and RCS wise. It appears to be exactly what the B-2 was going to be until the low level requirement forced a change. It looks like that engine inlets are recessed, which is a little new, but I suspect computer modeling is sufficiently advanced that they would know if that arrangement is a show stopper or not with physical flying models. Were there every F-22 or F-35 scale models? I remember a lot of surrogate aircraft for the avionics but other than that I think it was pre-production/LRI prod aircraft.
 

marauder2048

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If there needs to be a demonstrator it likely to be for things such as aeroelastic control tech that
were looked at but didn't make the cut for B-2 e.g. deformable surfaces.

And the demonstrator probably wouldn't look like a flying wing.

On a related note, the lead guy for the B-2 aeroelastic effort, R.T. Britt, is back, starting 2017,
as a consulting engineer for Northrop Grumman: Melbourne, Florida.
 
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GeorgeA

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From “Take That, Goliath” by Bill Sweetman, AW&ST, Nov. 9-22, 2015, p28-29:

Some of the key technologies in the LRS-B are both secret and mature. “Not only have some technologies been wind-tunnel-tested, prototypes, or flown – some of them have been used operationally,” [Air Force acquisition chief William] LaPlante said during the Oct. 21 briefing.
Not only did Boeing and Lockheed Martin outgun their rival fiscally, but they were also teamed on a government-funded demonstrator aircraft, identified as the Next-Generation Long-Range Strike Demonstrator, under an effort that started in the early days of NGB and continued after the ambitious bomber was canceled. The stealth technology group within Boeing’s Phantom Works, headed by Alan Wiechman, led the low-observables side of the program, although Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works built the airframe.
 

marauder2048

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From “Take That, Goliath” by Bill Sweetman, AW&ST, Nov. 9-22, 2015, p28-29:

Some of the key technologies in the LRS-B are both secret and mature. “Not only have some technologies been wind-tunnel-tested, prototypes, or flown – some of them have been used operationally,” [Air Force acquisition chief William] LaPlante said during the Oct. 21 briefing.
Not only did Boeing and Lockheed Martin outgun their rival fiscally, but they were also teamed on a government-funded demonstrator aircraft, identified as the Next-Generation Long-Range Strike Demonstrator, under an effort that started in the early days of NGB and continued after the ambitious bomber was canceled. The stealth technology group within Boeing’s Phantom Works, headed by Alan Wiechman, led the low-observables side of the program, although Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works built the airframe.
There's no hint of it anywhere in the GAO protest; you would fully expect Boeing and Lockheed to
invoke it as evidence of their goodness, righteousness and probity.
 
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