B-21 is following the B-2 path, production tooling, six FSD aircraft but with an accelerated LRIP phase. Should see the second 21 first flight soon. B-21 moving somewhat quicker due to the B-21 being more than likely a "180" derivative, safe guess.
 
I think the faster time lines are due to advances in digital modeling and the fact that the B-21 program was limited to technologies with a readiness level of 6. The modeling probably played a big role in allowing NG to build the prototype aircraft with full systems on production tooling.
 
I suspect all four EMD aircraft are raised to production standards, assuming any modifications are even necessary. That does not preclude those airframes from being used for testing.
It would be even better if the test aircraft are brought to full-rate production standards - since nothing would be a "well, that only applies to the test aircraft" item.
 
It would be even better if the test aircraft are brought to full-rate production standards - since nothing would be a "well, that only applies to the test aircraft" item.
You need extra instrumentation on the test aircraft, and what you find during testing may influence the final production standard (cf the F-35B needing a redesigned bulkhead). The only way to build test aircraft to final production standard is if you have a time machine. You can update them later, but some of the changes may not be cost effective.
 
You need extra instrumentation on the test aircraft, and what you find during testing may influence the final production standard (cf the F-35B needing a redesigned bulkhead). The only way to build test aircraft to final production standard is if you have a time machine. You can update them later, but some of the changes may not be cost effective.
See also the Tranche 1 Typhoons. One of the bulkheads can't take any more holes in it, or any larger holes, so those planes cannot be updated to Tranche 2 spec.
 
It would be even better if the test aircraft are brought to full-rate production standards - since nothing would be a "well, that only applies to the test aircraft" item.

You need extra instrumentation on the test aircraft, and what you find during testing may influence the final production standard (cf the F-35B needing a redesigned bulkhead). The only way to build test aircraft to final production standard is if you have a time machine. You can update them later, but some of the changes may not be cost effective.

Which is why I said "brought to" and NOT "built to"!
 
Which is why I said "brought to" and NOT "built to"!
Which was why I edited myself (I did misread it initially) to note it may not be cost effective. But if you've drilled and wired the aircraft for strain gauges and the like, then ever getting them to production standard may be difficult. In any case, you're likely to have a continuing need for test aircraft, cf the Eurofighter test fleet adding three new Instrumented Production Aircraft in recent years, so converting all aircraft to production standard may not make sense.
 
Alex Hollings from Sandbox has an interesting video about a potential interceptor mission for the B-21A Raider:


With the U.S. Air Force now signaling increasing uncertainty regarding the fate (and form) of its new stealth fighter, and emerging technologies allowing for a broader capability set in larger platforms than ever before, the future of the air superiority mission may be facing its most dramatic shift since the advent of stealth.
This role, once reserved for only the most aerobatically maneuverable and powerful tactical aircraft, could soon be absorbed by larger and undoubtedly more sluggish platforms that rely on superior stealth, long-range sensors, and advanced new weapons to dominate the skies... Platforms like the B-21 Raider?
Let's talk about it.

I suppose in this case it could carry the AIM-174B and AIM-260A AAMs.
 
I wouldn't expect a B-21 to carry more than 8x SM6 sized weapons, and they'd need to fold the tail fins while stored on the rotary launcher.
One thing I've questioned is whether the launcher will be the same length, given that there's only one and it's on the centreline, which would theoretically make having a longer one easier.
 
The problem with a B-2 launching AAMs is that each launch is going to mark the position of the B-21, and the B-21 cannot evade nearly as quickly as a fighter. NGAD is likely a supercruise capable platform that can rapidly displace after a missile launch. A big component of the CCA concept is offloading the launch event from manned aircraft when possible.
 
One thing I've questioned is whether the launcher will be the same length, given that there's only one and it's on the centreline, which would theoretically make having a longer one easier.

It will probably be a longer since it must accommodate the LRSO. But hypothetical SM-6 carriage would likely still be limited to eight. I doubt a B-21 would ever be equipped with such, but on the other hand it would make a potent AShM weapon and also potentially serve as a sort of super SIAW for land targets. So there is a use case for integrating it outside of A2A.
 
Do we know the length of LRSO though? I was thinking more of internal carriage of a revived HCSW.

HCSW is dead. AGM-183 is mostly dead.

I assume that AGM-181 has a weight and length similar to AGM-86 for the sake of compatibility and preserving or increasing range.

EDIT: quite honestly I expect the B-21 to only be capable of carrying free fall and glide ordnance in its IOC. The two advantages identified of a penetration bomber vice stand off bomber in the program were carrying more, less expensive munitions and being able to carry heavy penetrators. The primary weapons of B-21 will be unpowered, though likely things like JASSM and SiAW get integrated eventually.
 
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The problem with a B-2 launching AAMs is that each launch is going to mark the position of the B-21, and the B-21 cannot evade nearly as quickly as a fighter. NGAD is likely a supercruise capable platform that can rapidly displace after a missile launch. A big component of the CCA concept is offloading the launch event from manned aircraft when possible.
Which is why watering down NGAD's performance with a smaller engine is dumb.
 
Hope they're not going to try argue that it's a replacement for NGAD.
He suggests that it could fill in some roles along with the 'RQ-180'... in fact the 'NGAD' part of 'NGAD.' Er... to clarify, an ability to establish an overall dominance of the battlespace through comprehensive situational awareness over a wide area and the ability to launch strikes from long range as a hub directing other platforms (such as CCAs, F-35s etc.) that are part of the system to actually fire the ordnance, do the jamming, recon etc. It might have a laser for self-defence.

In this scenario, the NGAD would not be an air superiority fighter like a super F-15. Instead, think of it as an flying air-defence destroyer with an admiral's flag surrounded by a flotilla of specialised corvettes and drones, many with AI, all drawing down data from satellites.

The decline of specialised aircraft such as interceptors and single-role ground-attack aircraft and their replacement by multi-role fighters is given as an example. The fighter won't die, but roles would be shared differently among platforms.
 
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I'm surprised most perhaps by the B-21's low-ish max weigh at just 82t / 190,000lb. The weight of a medium bomber than a true heavy like the B-52, B-1 and B-2. I wonder how this affects range?
 
I'm surprised most perhaps by the B-21's low-ish max weigh at just 82t / 190,000lb. The weight of a medium bomber than a true heavy like the B-52, B-1 and B-2. I wonder how this affects range?
It helps that it's not designed for any low altitude BS like the B-2 got redesigned for, which added a lot of weight.

And it's carrying about half the bombload, so that saves another ~12 tons of MTOW.
 
The problem with a B-2 launching AAMs is that each launch is going to mark the position of the B-21, and the B-21 cannot evade nearly as quickly as a fighter. NGAD is likely a supercruise capable platform that can rapidly displace after a missile launch. A big component of the CCA concept is offloading the launch event from manned aircraft when possible.
which is exactly why its viable. Consider this... forward deployed CCA's lobbing missiles as well as being sensor nodes with the B-21 safe far behind via other CCA's acting as relays and or satellite uplinks controlling ops not unlike an Awacs and therefore not detectable as a launcher.
 
I think NG used a lot of off-the shelf hardware. Example, B-2 flight control actuators were Moog units, Moog also makes a nice modular and scalable electrohydraulic servomodule and modular hydraulic cylinder which were used on X-47B and JAS-39 as well. lots of good OTS hardware available providing they meet the defined performance requirements.
 
Thought so. Aviation Week's estimates of size are very much on the low side.
Yeah, while the B-2 is a lot heavier than it should be due to the low-altitude redesign, an MTOW of 82 tonnes is way too light, IMO.

B2 MTOW is 170 tonnes.
IIRC the low altitude redesign added 10% to the aircraft weight, so that's -17 tonnes.
-12 tonnes for reduced bombload.
~29-30 tonnes down so far, let's call it 140 tonnes thus far.

Reduced dimensions is where things get squirrely. We know the B-21 is physically smaller than the B-2, and this is where the square-cube rule kicks us in the danglies. B-21 is at least 8ft narrower than the B-2, because it only has 1 bomb bay. It's probably more like 12-16ft narrower because it only has 2 engines as well. An otherwise exactly proportional OML copy that is 10% smaller in each direction is only 73% the weight/volume. .73*140 is 106.

~106 tonnes MTOW I'd believe.
 

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