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Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider (LRS-B)

bobbymike

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In California he saw a “flesh and bones” version of the B-21 strike bomber, an in-development and important update to the bomber fleet. He saw the latest version of hypersonic weapons also being developed and built in California.

 

RavenOne

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According to the article ‚
Gen. Timothy Ray, the Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. Strategic Command, visited several organizations across the bomber test enterprise to receive first-hand updates on the progress of the B-21 program during a visit to Edwards Air Force Base and Plant 42, in California, May 5-6

His first stop was to Edwards AFB, where he met with the 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force. He was updated on the organization’s continued efforts to test upgrades to the B-2 Spirit in order to modernize the B-2 and integrate future weapons systems.

He then visited the 420th Flight Test Squadron, B-21 CTF. Ray was briefed on the construct for the Combined Test Force and the benefits it will bring to bear for the B-21 program. The B-21 CTF is an integrated team of test professionals from Northrop Grumman, 420th FLTS and Detachment 5, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. The B-21 CTF provided a comprehensive update on the team’s readiness to support the B-21 program when it transitions into flight test.

On the following day, Ray visited the Northrop Grumman facilities on Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, and saw the significant progress made on the build of the first flight test aircraft that will one day make its way to Edwards AFB for flight testing. Northrop Grumman personnel updated Ray on build progress and the value of building those test articles using the same production line, tooling and procedures that will manufacture the final production aircraft.

And the lovely images assigned to the above article and got slightly excited was hoping to see lol

cheers
 

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FighterJock

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A year from flight means rollout in.... 6 months?

I hope that the B-21 is rolled out in six months rooster. Though I would not like to say for sure, a lot of things can change in six months.
 

Josh_TN

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Assuming nothing goes wrong.
Here's hoping. But I have to say everyone who seems to know anything about the project seems almost bubbly about it. After the last couple decades of defense department project fails it seems almost inexplicable how they could manage to produce an intercontinental stealth bomber on time and budget. Something I didn't know until just the last week is that the project is being managed by the RCO - which seems kinda bonkers to me, for such a big ticket item. But that group does seem to be part of the success story. I get the impression RCO is the champion of "good enough" and "off the shelf".
 

bobbymike

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Assuming nothing goes wrong.
Here's hoping. But I have to say everyone who seems to know anything about the project seems almost bubbly about it. After the last couple decades of defense department project fails it seems almost inexplicable how they could manage to produce an intercontinental stealth bomber on time and budget. Something I didn't know until just the last week is that the project is being managed by the RCO - which seems kinda bonkers to me, for such a big ticket item. But that group does seem to be part of the success story. I get the impression RCO is the champion of "good enough" and "off the shelf".
My pure speculation is that the B-21 is the great beneficiary of billions of prior black budget R&D. The cost of the first bomber is probably $20 billion if you took all this into account.
 

Josh_TN

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Assuming nothing goes wrong.
Here's hoping. But I have to say everyone who seems to know anything about the project seems almost bubbly about it. After the last couple decades of defense department project fails it seems almost inexplicable how they could manage to produce an intercontinental stealth bomber on time and budget. Something I didn't know until just the last week is that the project is being managed by the RCO - which seems kinda bonkers to me, for such a big ticket item. But that group does seem to be part of the success story. I get the impression RCO is the champion of "good enough" and "off the shelf".
My pure speculation is that the B-21 is the great beneficiary of billions of prior black budget R&D. The cost of the first bomber is probably $20 billion if you took all this into account.
I agree, but I also think that the specs were written to only use established tech with minimal gold plating and goal post moving. That's the "good enough". The R&D of black projects, like the speculative RQ-180 for instance, meant that "off the shelf" included a lot of established technologies - ie, it was a big shelf. :)
 

TomcatViP

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Initial results (extracted from the link above from @bobbymike ):
For one thing, lab testing finds that the ceramic is more radar absorbent than the existing polymers, being able to absorb 90% or more of the energy from radar. It is, in effect, much harder for radar to “see.”

In addition, the material is water-resistant and harder than sand. In other words, it can better withstand harsh conditions.

What’s more, the ceramic material retains its radar-absorbent characteristics at temperatures as high as 1,800 C (and as cold as -100 C).
 

starviking

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TomcatViP

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Logically, if it has been tested to 1800°C as a stealth coating material, it would have to be in relation with a representative aerospace airframe, hence with a degree of thermal expension. Otherwise this will constitute a fraud.
 

TomS

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Logically, if it has been tested to 1800°C as a stealth coating material, it would have to be in relation with a representative aerospace airframe, hence with a degree of thermal expension. Otherwise this will constitute a fraud.

This is preliminary research. It might be the next wonder material or it might be a dead end. But fraud is a really strong word to use.
 

TomcatViP

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Yes. And I did forgot that tiles (thermo protective tiles) don't expand but slide one relatively to an other as the structure expand.
Hence, no extreme thermal expansion might have to be supported by such material.
 

sferrin

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Yes. And I did forgot that tiles (thermo protective tiles) don't expand but slide one relatively to an other as the structure expand.
Hence, no extreme thermal expansion might have to be supported by such material.
Except I'd think gaps would be a no-no for stealth.
 

bobbymike

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“In fact, applying the ceramic “skin” is fairly straightforward. A liquid ceramic precursor is sprayed onto the surface of the aircraft. And as the liquid precursor is exposed to ambient air, it undergoes a series of chemical reactions and is converted to the solid ceramic material”

The above is the key paragraph IMO assume it’s like any coating that’s applied to a surface albeit with different chemistry.
 

TomcatViP

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Yes. And I did forgot that tiles (thermo protective tiles) don't expand but slide one relatively to an other as the structure expand.
Hence, no extreme thermal expansion might have to be supported by such material.
Except I'd think gaps would be a no-no for stealth.
The A-12 wedged leading edge would be an accute comparison with foam replaced by ionized air in the interstices. Aslo, some protective material are done to slide ontop of each others leaving no gap on the entire range of temperature.
 

Hood

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I guess the rate of expansion even at supersonic speeds might be fairly low given the low thermal expansion coefficient of ceramics. But vibration and aeroelastic loading might be more complicated scenarios.
It's certainly a very interesting development and could have all kinds of applications in hypersonics too.
 

sublight is back

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There is not, nor will there ever be stealth "coatings" that work at high mach, when inside the earths atmosphere.
 

In_A_Dream

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There is not, nor will there ever be stealth "coatings" that work at high mach, when inside the earths atmosphere.
What makes you so sure? I’d be interested to hear your take on the limiting factors and what makes them insurmountable.
Whether you're generating a boundary layer in front of the leading edge or it's the leading edge itself, the ambient temperature of the air is going to be insanely high. Hypersonic speeds basically make your signature huge for IR sensors. At that point, there's no reason to really have stealth coatings unless you want to retain some type of dual subsonic/hypersonic role.
 

sublight is back

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There is not, nor will there ever be stealth "coatings" that work at high mach, when inside the earths atmosphere.
What makes you so sure? I’d be interested to hear your take on the limiting factors and what makes them insurmountable.
The electromagnetic conduction in materials changes with temperatures. These changes adversely effect the materials ability to reduce radar signatures. If nobody has coined a term for this, we'll just start calling it "SPF's Law".
 

rooster

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The paper states that
Initial results (extracted from the link above from @bobbymike ):
What’s more, the ceramic material retains its radar-absorbent characteristics at temperatures as high as 1,800 C (and as cold as -100 C).
Ceramics have high specific heats because of the crystals lattice structure, so they will if one is found, continue to act as ram at higher temps as compared to an iron ball type of ram. Metals expand and therefore the energy needed to conduct electricity rises with temps. Electromagnetic waves do penetrate metals contrary to popular belief but the wave rapidly decays and the skin depth penetration is as I recall from wave mechanics found by calculating (1/e) * E0 where E0 is the energy of the free wave. So an electromagnetic wave will pass through a sheet of metal that is thin enough. Which makes me curious about the thin gold coated canopies.
 

sublight is back

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quellish

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There is not, nor will there ever be stealth "coatings" that work at high mach, when inside the earths atmosphere.

There have been stealth coatings and materials on hypersonic vehicles for over 50 years.
Reentry vehicles are shaped for RCS reduction and have been since the 50s. Of course, when moving through the atmosphere at high speeds they are covered by ionized gas, which itself changes the radar return. The vehicle is shaped - and coated - to change the nature of that ionized gas. Ablative coatings can change what frequencies the ionized gas reflects or absorbs, how much, etc.
 

sublight is back

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There is not, nor will there ever be stealth "coatings" that work at high mach, when inside the earths atmosphere.

There have been stealth coatings and materials on hypersonic vehicles for over 50 years.
Reentry vehicles are shaped for RCS reduction and have been since the 50s. Of course, when moving through the atmosphere at high speeds they are covered by ionized gas, which itself changes the radar return. The vehicle is shaped - and coated - to change the nature of that ionized gas. Ablative coatings can change what frequencies the ionized gas reflects or absorbs, how much, etc.
Sorry, I should have been more specific and qualified that statement with "VLO".
 

Archibald

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"Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and um, screaming."

"B-21 Program - Red Team Review", Dr. Ian Malcolm, Senior Member

"We spared no expense" would be appropriate, too. And "that's really one big pile of sheet."
 

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