I really should change my personal text
- Oct 25, 2013
- Reaction score
Is there any actual evidence or any attributable sources for any of those statements of “fact”?Yes. We have still yet to see the design in the flesh, but the indications to date are troubling. (And that is leaving aside the debate whether a non-expendable small stealthy subsonic bomber is at all viable in the present day.) Smaller bomb load (ironic in light of the original 'large and flexible payload bay' requirement), but apparently with a lesser unrefueled range than, the B-2 it is supposed to replace (even more ironic). Classifying it as a nuclear capable medium bomber would be rather stretching things, especially given that its nuclear qualification is now once again supposed to only take place at least two years after it finally reaches IOC.Was it?
One of the justifications for the switch to a subsonic design was that, with the simultaneous addition of the optionally manned required requirement (it had been previously studied as part of the NGB but the proponents for such an option had been having difficulty making a case for it to be added, especially with ongoing problems in the area of UAVs) to the program, it would be much easier and cheaper to expend an unmanned subsonic bomber than a unmanned supersonic one. Another string to this was that supposedly the B-21's refueled range would be greatly increased in unmanned mode compared to manned operations. And in cases where that was not enough, well, the USAF was confident that its large network of available airbases and its healthy (cue loud laughter) tanker fleet would, together with the much larger numbers of B-21 bombers they would now be able to buy, would be easily able to cover any contingency. However, even before Obama had left office, the optionally manned capability had been shelved (officially 'delayed' for budgetary reasons, which one could consider a darkly amusing note). Added to this the various policy, procurement, and geopolitical disasters of the day along with those that have followed in the time since, and all those airily parroted justifications have either vaporised in the cold daylight of reality, or else look shakier than a drunk trapeze artist on the high wire act without a safety net.
In the present day it now seems rather unlikely that the B-21 fleet will ever have anywhere near the numbers and deployment locations required, in the light of the type's dire lack of speed, range, and payload, to be able to respond to a sudden overseas emergency in anything resembling a reasonable timeframe. And that is before we get to things like mission systems, available payload & associated delivery options. All of course assuming that the B-21 is not abruptly cancelled in the near future.
And all that is not even touching on fiascoes like the abortive planned switch to biofuel (technically the biofuel program wasn't a B-21 specific requirement).
Any by any chance any of that has any basis in fact and/ or reality why are the Russians and the Chinese airforces moving ahead with their own equivalents (sub-sonic stealthy flying wing bombers)?