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Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider (LRS-B)

Bhurki

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There's also New START to cross off the list.
With China being considered the new (and only ?) opponent in 90% of the discussions in security spheres, I'm not sure if any treaties not including the same party will have considerable effect in implementation of any new program. When the enemy you're facing doesn't have the constraints described in the New Start, why unnecessarily put them on yourselves.
 

Josh_TN

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A bomber only counts as a single launcher and warhead. Assuming B-21s are nuclear capable from the get go, the US can always denuclearizate other bombers. I believe nearly twenty B-52s and some non combat coded B-2s fall into that category currently. There probably won’t be many B21s in service when NEW START expires, and it cannot be renewed.
 

FighterJock

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A bomber only counts as a single launcher and warhead. Assuming B-21s are nuclear capable from the get go, the US can always denuclearizate other bombers. I believe nearly twenty B-52s and some non combat coded B-2s fall into that category currently. There probably won’t be many B21s in service when NEW START expires, and it cannot be renewed.

I hope that the B-21s are nuclear capable from the start and that the USAF does not go down the same route that it took with the initial Block 10 B-2s when they were first delivered to the Air Force, I would think that would be bad news for the entire programme.
 

Josh_TN

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I can't speak to their plan, like most things it seems classified. If the buy really ended up being 145 aircraft, an initial batch that was non nuclear capable wouldn't be a big deal. They can be nuclearized later and honestly the bulk of the work they do is going to be conventional anyway. If the US really has a problem of too many nuclear capable bombers before Feb 2026, that seems like a good thing to me. Perhaps they will just take an extra SSBN offline ('non-deployed') for a few months until New START expires so as not to have to modify any existing bombers. That would allow for twenty additional nuclear capable bombers.
 

trose213

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I can't speak to their plan, like most things it seems classified. If the buy really ended up being 145 aircraft, an initial batch that was non nuclear capable wouldn't be a big deal. They can be nuclearized later and honestly the bulk of the work they do is going to be conventional anyway. If the US really has a problem of too many nuclear capable bombers before Feb 2026, that seems like a good thing to me. Perhaps they will just take an extra SSBN offline ('non-deployed') for a few months until New START expires so as not to have to modify any existing bombers. That would allow for twenty additional nuclear capable bombers.
Let's just say things aren't looking too optimistic for the New START follow on.
 

Josh_TN

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I can't speak to their plan, like most things it seems classified. If the buy really ended up being 145 aircraft, an initial batch that was non nuclear capable wouldn't be a big deal. They can be nuclearized later and honestly the bulk of the work they do is going to be conventional anyway. If the US really has a problem of too many nuclear capable bombers before Feb 2026, that seems like a good thing to me. Perhaps they will just take an extra SSBN offline ('non-deployed') for a few months until New START expires so as not to have to modify any existing bombers. That would allow for twenty additional nuclear capable bombers.
Let's just say things aren't looking too optimistic for the New START follow on.

Agreed. While the Biden administration was willing to renew New START, I think this was only because the US has no new warheads or launch platforms in production. By 2026, at a minimum the B-21 should be entering production. At that point I doubt any arms control regime that doesn’t involve China would be adopted, and China has shown no interest in arms control.
 

trose213

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I can't speak to their plan, like most things it seems classified. If the buy really ended up being 145 aircraft, an initial batch that was non nuclear capable wouldn't be a big deal. They can be nuclearized later and honestly the bulk of the work they do is going to be conventional anyway. If the US really has a problem of too many nuclear capable bombers before Feb 2026, that seems like a good thing to me. Perhaps they will just take an extra SSBN offline ('non-deployed') for a few months until New START expires so as not to have to modify any existing bombers. That would allow for twenty additional nuclear capable bombers.
Let's just say things aren't looking too optimistic for the New START follow on.

Agreed. While the Biden administration was willing to renew New START, I think this was only because the US has no new warheads or launch platforms in production. By 2026, at a minimum the B-21 should be entering production. At that point I doubt any arms control regime that doesn’t involve China would be adopted, and China has shown no interest in arms control.
The PRC for now is still irrelevant, the problematic part for the US is the March 1st weapons.
 

FighterJock

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Why stop at 145? I wanted the USAF to order 200 B-21s.
Look forward to 2030 and the possible rapid increases in modernization between China & the US. We could be looking at the design phase of an entirely new bomber.

I like the sound of a new bomber, because by the 2030s the B-52 will be getting on to nearly 90 years old and will be needing replaced even with the new engines.
 

Foo Fighter

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If the NGAD program is a success, could this lead to a rolling strike aircraft to follow on from the B-21?
 

In_A_Dream

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If the NGAD program is a success, could this lead to a rolling strike aircraft to follow on from the B-21?
You know, it's really hard to predict what the thinking will be 10 years from now, because I'd imagine the USA & China will be getting very creative to maintain a competitive edge against one another. Will a penetrating strike aircraft be viable? What if the airspace is saturated with high altitude AEW drones who can provide an air radar compliment to ground radars to help maintain the air picture? Along with squadrons of cheap on-alert drones who can be launched from anywhere to counter any invading forces. That coverage could be extended out as far as China needs in order to prevent the US from being able to get within a reasonable strike distance and due to the amount of deployed forces, it would take an overwhelming amount of missiles to cripple any infrastructure in support of it. It could become its own form of deterrence and if they are EMP-hardened, then oof.
 

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If the NGAD program is a success, could this lead to a rolling strike aircraft to follow on from the B-21?

The B-21 is a strike aircraft, so I'm not sure what this program you're discussing would be.
 

Foo Fighter

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I am talking about a program of rolling modifications and updates which is what I understand NGAD to be.
 

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I think 30,000lbs + is firmly in the medium range but I agree it probably wouldn’t qualify as heavy given its three predecessors. Hopefully the range is still roughly equivalent to a strategic bomber; I’m fine with a lighter load considering how small PGMs are now a days.
 

sferrin

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I think 30,000lbs + is firmly in the medium range but I agree it probably wouldn’t qualify as heavy given its three predecessors. Hopefully the range is still roughly equivalent to a strategic bomber; I’m fine with a lighter load considering how small PGMs are now a days.
B-58: 19,500lbs
B-47: 25,000lbs
Tu-16: 20,000lbs
Tu-22 Blinder: 26,500lbs
Tu-22M Backfire: 53,000lbs
H-6: 26,000lbs.
Victor: 35,000lbs.
Vulcan: 21,000lb.
 
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Sundog

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Once again, you guys are failing to understand the mission defines the aircraft, not the other way around. I have no idea what this imaginary "strike" mission is that can't be handled by the B-21, UCAV's, and/or missiles.
 

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Q. What does that suggest for the B-21 buy? That is still several years into the future, but what are your thoughts in that regard?

A. The B-21 program is incredibly healthy. There’s something I want to highlight that’s unique. Randy Walden and the RCO [Rapid Capabilities Office] and Jason Voorhees—Col. Jason Voorhees is the program manager—that unique relationship with RCO and a major command to go do things is actually incredibly effective. And then we start thinking about Randy Walden, and [him] leading the Air Battle Management System [ABMS program] … the connection with the B-21 to ABMS, is total. It’s not an add-on or afterthought, It’s part and parcel [of ABMS]. … Since we have a modular design on the airplane, because it is very mature technology compared to what you might think—far more mature technology—it’s open mission systems and we … were able to be very, very steady on the requirements. … We can very rapidly bring new radios, new emitters, new weapons—those kinds of things—very quickly to the airplane. It took me many years to get a [joint air-to-surface missile] onto a B-2; I’m going to be able to do that in a year. So, when I say it’s the B-21, it’s not the “B two point one.” Right? It is a fundamentally different plane. We briefed Congress on the process, … how we’ll keep requirements stable, and how we’ll keep adding really fresh tech and sustaining the plane in a way no one’s thinking about. And when we start talking about, you know, how we’re doing stuff with bombers around the globe, then the power of that becomes pretty obvious. … So, I’m pretty optimistic about the future of the B-21.

Q. What are some of the attributes you’re looking forward to seeing in the B-21, and what are the things on the table that are going to be most important?

A. We talked about my ability to design in a data-driven sustainment game plan that’s not exquisite and unique like other programs, but that we can be really purposeful about monetizing. That’s going to be one of the key pieces: the fact that you are data driven, and your digital [insight] is going to be a real key piece of how you can do … developmental and operational tests—a synthetic training environment, right? So, we’ve started to work with some of the experts outside the Air Force who’ve been helpful to the Air Force on the Defense Science Board and the Scientific Advisory Board, on how best to create training systems of the future. … We are bringing in some more folks from the outside who are great at the human-machine interface, … we’re going to build that from the beginning. We know that we’re going to reduce the number of specialty codes inside the maintenance world. … We have our maintenance guys right now embedded with the RCO to make sure we design in sustainability and simplicity and to really limit the number of things we have to do uniquely. You take an opportunity to be a different kind of team, with these kinds of capabilities, and it’s really a match made in heaven, with us and RCO.
 

trose213

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I think 30,000lbs + is firmly in the medium range but I agree it probably wouldn’t qualify as heavy given its three predecessors. Hopefully the range is still roughly equivalent to a strategic bomber; I’m fine with a lighter load considering how small PGMs are now a days.
B-58: 19,500lbs
B-47: 25,000lbs
Tu-16: 20,000lbs
Tu-22 Blinder: 26,500lbs
Tu-22M Backfire: 53,000lbs
H-6: 26,000lbs.
Victor: 35,000lbs.
Vulcan: 21,000lb.
Internal carriage only
 

DrRansom

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If the NGAD program is a success, could this lead to a rolling strike aircraft to follow on from the B-21?

Were you thinking something like a F-111 class bomber? Smaller - so it can operate out of more airfields, while carrying a decent stand-off payload a long range.
 

Foo Fighter

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I am not thinking size at all, merely a rolling program of updates within a set airframe that is able to accept new engines and electronic components
 

Sundog

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Once again, nobody has answered the question I asked; What is the mission you're talking about that would need something that can't be executed by the B-21, a UCAV, a missile, and I will add, the NGAD itself? The mission SFerrin is showing is one they're already replacing with a new rocket boosted weapon, IIRC.
 

Bhurki

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Once again, nobody has answered the question I asked; What is the mission you're talking about that would need something that can't be executed by the B-21, a UCAV, a missile, and I will add, the NGAD itself? The mission SFerrin is showing is one they're already replacing with a new rocket boosted weapon, IIRC.
Mach 2, 2k miles of unrefuelled combat radius, 15k lbs payload, capability to protect itself against DCA, basically a fighter-bomber.(a 2x larger rehash of FB22/23)
 
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TomcatViP

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Why fight with only a moderate chance of survival when you can hide unseen from all and pick only the nasty to be plinked as a bonus?

The amount of sorties that would have to be generated with a dispersed, diluted combat force precludes going forefront in a fight. Bomber will evade and air dominance will be restricted to a time and a place.
There is nothing better for that fight that an aircraft that can generate dozen of sorties without being stuck in hangar for repairs or strikeout by an enemy missile.

That Bomber must be smaller and less complex (less parts, less complexity, more impact on maintenance with a single system change on the contrary of massive Bomber that need multiple systems) and have the best stealth attribute you can get.
 

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Love that 80 JDAM drop. 10 B-2s X 80 = 800 aim points awesome capability. Can’t they also carry like 156 SDBs each?
 

sferrin

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Once again, nobody has answered the question I asked; What is the mission you're talking about that would need something that can't be executed by the B-21, a UCAV, a missile, and I will add, the NGAD itself? The mission SFerrin is showing is one they're already replacing with a new rocket boosted weapon, IIRC.
What is the name of this weapon they're, "already using"? Which one carries 80 JDAMS?
 

Josh_TN

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I suspect B-21 will be capable of dropping 80 SDBs, which is probably good enough and also will provide stand-off capability. The B-2 is not publicly known to have SBD integrated, though someone on this site posted a pic of a four round rack with orange weapons (test ordnance color scheme I believe) being loaded onto a B-2s rotary launcher. In that configuration, 64 could be carried. A dedicated SDB rack system (like the 80 bomb racks for mk82 JDAM) would increase that substantially but I’m not aware of such a system in service.
 

bring_it_on

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Looking into the future, and the INDOPACOM theater, it would seem that the B-21's added range and persistence would enable it to be a lot more than just a bomb hauler. It could very well be playing a more broader role there in the EW or the command and control side of things given its unique attributes of avionics, signature and range. For that theater, I'm more interested in knowing how many JASSM's or SiAW's it can carry as opposed to JDAM's and SDB's just given the challenges associated with the SAM systems and other offensive capability in the region.
 

sferrin

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I suspect B-21 will be capable of dropping 80 SDBs, which is probably good enough and also will provide stand-off capability. The B-2 is not publicly known to have SBD integrated, though someone on this site posted a pic of a four round rack with orange weapons (test ordnance color scheme I believe) being loaded onto a B-2s rotary launcher. In that configuration, 64 could be carried. A dedicated SDB rack system (like the 80 bomb racks for mk82 JDAM) would increase that substantially but I’m not aware of such a system in service.
An SDB is not a JDAM. Also a B-2 would be able to carry much more than 80 SDBs.
 
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TomS

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Also a B-2 would be able to carry much more than 80 SDBs.

Only if there is a dedicated SDB rack like that specialize rack for 80 500-lb JDAMs.

Otherwise, as Josh_TN was saying, you can probably only hang one BRU-61 with four SDB on each station on the B-2 rotary launcher. That's 8 stations times 4 SDB per station times two rotary launchers for a total of 64 SDB. Each loaded BRU-61 is just under 1500 pounds and roughly similar in dimensions to a 2000-pound JDAM.
 

Josh_TN

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For most target sets, an SDB will work as well as a mk82. Actually the SDB has a greater ability to penetrate hardened targets.

There is no doubt that the B-21 won’t carry the B-2s warload. I don’t fine that concerning so long as a large number of B-21s are purchased and they have a similar combatant radius. I think there are very few targets sets that require more than 30,000 lbs of ordnance, and in those cases just send additional aircraft. In actual practice the B-2s seem to operate in pairs anyway.
 

sferrin

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For most target sets, an SDB will work as well as a mk82. Actually the SDB has a greater ability to penetrate hardened targets.
For some targets blast is preferred in which case a 500lb bomb is much better than an SDB. For others nothing is stopping the B-2 from carrying SDB.
 

sferrin

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For most target sets, an SDB will work as well as a mk82. Actually the SDB has a greater ability to penetrate hardened targets.

There is no doubt that the B-21 won’t carry the B-2s warload. I don’t fine that concerning so long as a large number of B-21s are purchased and they have a similar combatant radius. I think there are very few targets sets that require more than 30,000 lbs of ordnance, and in those cases just send additional aircraft. In actual practice the B-2s seem to operate in pairs anyway.
But is the B-21s range comparable to a B-2's with payload? (And don't say "tankers". If the B-21 requires more than the B-2 then that cost needs to be rolled in.)
 

Josh_TN

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I don’t have that information. I hope that the B-21 has roughly equivalent range and if it is significantly less, then I agree that is a major concern. The WestPac theater demands more, not less, endurance.
 
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