Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider (LRS-B)

flateric

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Even speculations must be based on knowledge.
What knowledge of official current state of B-21 program or examples of past programs and 'assets' implement scenarios makes you think this is 'B-21'? Air Force and contractor lie to Senate and public and first Raiders already built, tested, and covertly deployed? Nah...
 
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_Del_

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Didn't a B-58 cost three times as much as a B-52 to operate
No, not at all. A Hustler was slightly cheaper to operate, but some "creative accounting" made a powerful talking point that survives to this day.

I don't recall the exact numbers off the top of my head, but the talking point was created by saying the two Hustler wings were as expensive as six BUFF-equipped SAC wings. This ignored the fact that the Hustler wings had three times as many aircraft.
A BUFF wing was typically one bombardment squadron (BS) of 12-15 aircraft, frequently, but not always with an aerial refueling squadron. All 100+ Hustlers produced (minus operational losses) belonged to just two wings. The 63rd, 64th, 65th BS all belonged to one wing (43rd) in Little Rock, for example, as did the KC-135 squadron there.

Acquisition costs for the Hustler were roughly three times as much as a Buff, but that was sunk cost by the time the decision to retire them came about. SAC wanted to keep them, but the decision came down from on high.
 

Flyaway

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Admittedly far out speculation on my part, but look at this:


Is it possible, unbeknownst to we common rabble, that this puppy has already been in the air for a while? From what we can see in this limited view, it does bear a resemblance to what artists' illustrations have been officially released.
I just posted about people online mistaking the RQ-180 for the B-21.
 

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Admittedly far out speculation on my part, but look at this:


Is it possible, unbeknownst to we common rabble, that this puppy has already been in the air for a while? From what we can see in this limited view, it does bear a resemblance to what artists' illustrations have been officially released.
I just posted about people online mistaking the RQ-180 for the B-21.
I don't believe it's the B-21 either. And if it's some sort of B-21 demonstrator, I doubt it'd be flown that close to SCS. Similar to the Amarillo sighting, sometimes individuals or groups are tipped off about something for various reasons. This may have been one of those cases, obviously directed at China.

As to what this bird is, operationally speaking, probably something that's going to stay obscure for the time being.
 

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I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing.

Either this is unintentional or this is something else.
 
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Hydroman

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Just another black program playing around (or on a mission) and more than likely the Govt wants to see what kind of response they get then they will deny, common place. Early on in the F-117 days, they showed some Govt individuals a solid black top view of the aircraft and most thought it was a very high speed design, nobody knew what it could be or if it was real.
 

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Just another black program playing around (or on a mission) and more than likely the Govt wants to see what kind of response they get then they will deny, common place. Early on in the F-117 days, they showed some Govt individuals a solid black top view of the aircraft and most thought it was a very high speed design, nobody knew what it could be or if it was real.

Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight? Unless said program is going to be revealed at some point during the next year or so. And another thing, it may well have been that aircraft that was caught out in the open at Groom Lake.
 

dark sidius

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Enemy must know you have Black program instead it serve nothing for deterence, you must show it at a time, we can see a bulky underneath like a weapon bay, it can be something else of a ISR may be attack mission too, and we don't know if this a UAV it could be piloted. This is the same planform of the futur B-21.
 

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?
 

Flyaway

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Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?

That's the question I kept asking 32 years ago.

Chris
Because they want it to be seen. Anyway the RQ-180 has had a lot of column inches over the years for a truly black program so it’s more grey. Otherwise it would be rather odd the way it keeps being flown at relatively low level for a HALE also with no contrail suppression. Also if it lets itself be known it will get all the air defences in the area scrambling and the data collection can begin by its sensor packages. It’s also sending a message to both adversary and ally.
 
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coanda

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?

I mentioned a 40hr flight time in the RQ180 thread, it was a guess, probably at the low end of the scale. I figure its probably in its operational area for around 24 hours and the rest in transit.

The photo was taken early morning in a fairly benign environment. Probably trying for as much night time as possible in the operational area. And if that operational area is the middle of an expanse of sea, its not likely to be seen by much at all, if anything.

Anyway, to make this relevant: would it be likely that the RQ180 and the B21 would be teamed a bit like the assault breaker concept?
 

Flyaway

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?

I mentioned a 40hr flight time in the RQ180 thread, it was a guess, probably at the low end of the scale. I figure its probably in its operational area for around 24 hours and the rest in transit.

The photo was taken early morning in a fairly benign environment. Probably trying for as much night time as possible in the operational area. And if that operational area is the middle of an expanse of sea, its not likely to be seen by much at all, if anything.

Anyway, to make this relevant: would it be likely that the RQ180 and the B21 would be teamed a bit like the assault breaker concept?
I thought the RQ-180 was rumoured to be designed to operate with the B-21. I am guessing there is also the rumours that the RQ-180 is armed so I don’t know if that means they have a secondary rule to take out defences for the B-21. Hence maybe the RQ designation is inaccurate?
 

In_A_Dream

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?

I mentioned a 40hr flight time in the RQ180 thread, it was a guess, probably at the low end of the scale. I figure its probably in its operational area for around 24 hours and the rest in transit.

The photo was taken early morning in a fairly benign environment. Probably trying for as much night time as possible in the operational area. And if that operational area is the middle of an expanse of sea, its not likely to be seen by much at all, if anything.

Anyway, to make this relevant: would it be likely that the RQ180 and the B21 would be teamed a bit like the assault breaker concept?
I thought the RQ-180 was rumoured to be designed to operate with the B-21. I am guessing there is also the rumours that the RQ-180 is armed so I don’t know if that means they have a secondary rule to take out defences for the B-21. Hence maybe the RQ designation is inaccurate?
Remember there's a family of systems approach that's been in development. The B-21 plays a role, and other aircraft play specific roles as well. Maybe there's an EQ- designation out there.
 

Nigelhg

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?

I mentioned a 40hr flight time in the RQ180 thread, it was a guess, probably at the low end of the scale. I figure its probably in its operational area for around 24 hours and the rest in transit.

The photo was taken early morning in a fairly benign environment. Probably trying for as much night time as possible in the operational area. And if that operational area is the middle of an expanse of sea, its not likely to be seen by much at all, if anything.

Anyway, to make this relevant: would it be likely that the RQ180 and the B21 would be teamed a bit like the assault breaker concept?
It may have been a transit flight from Guam to Diego Garcia.
 

coanda

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Someone mentioned a 40 hour flight? Is it possible to stay in the dark for 40 hours, and actually go somewhere? Maybe this was the least detectable option. Possibly also maybe it tells someone, that we have been, and you didnt detect us. Where else have we been?

I mentioned a 40hr flight time in the RQ180 thread, it was a guess, probably at the low end of the scale. I figure its probably in its operational area for around 24 hours and the rest in transit.

The photo was taken early morning in a fairly benign environment. Probably trying for as much night time as possible in the operational area. And if that operational area is the middle of an expanse of sea, its not likely to be seen by much at all, if anything.

Anyway, to make this relevant: would it be likely that the RQ180 and the B21 would be teamed a bit like the assault breaker concept?
It may have been a transit flight from Guam to Diego Garcia.
Yep, that's quite possible. Its a fairly direct line. I wonder if thry'd bother with clearance to fly over the countries in the way or if they'd actually go the longer route to the south to try and stay over the ocean? Maybe that's not possible without another stop somewhere.
 
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F-14D

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Didn't a B-58 cost three times as much as a B-52 to operate
No, not at all. A Hustler was slightly cheaper to operate, but some "creative accounting" made a powerful talking point that survives to this day.

I don't recall the exact numbers off the top of my head, but the talking point was created by saying the two Hustler wings were as expensive as six BUFF-equipped SAC wings. This ignored the fact that the Hustler wings had three times as many aircraft.
A BUFF wing was typically one bombardment squadron (BS) of 12-15 aircraft, frequently, but not always with an aerial refueling squadron. All 100+ Hustlers produced (minus operational losses) belonged to just two wings. The 63rd, 64th, 65th BS all belonged to one wing (43rd) in Little Rock, for example, as did the KC-135 squadron there.

Acquisition costs for the Hustler were roughly three times as much as a Buff, but that was sunk cost by the time the decision to retire them came about. SAC wanted to keep them, but the decision came down from on high.

Sorry for the delay on this and for a couple of other things I may post on this topic. I've got some input on the topic of B-52 vs. B-58 costs.

Each B-52 wing had 15 "Unit Equipped" (Air Force jargon, I don't know what it means), while each B-58 wing had 39 UE aircraft. One time acquisition cost of a B-58 was 2.46 times that of a B-52 in constant dollars. If you threw in planned tanker support for both but didn't count the four GAM-72 decoys usually acquired with each B-52, the ratio was still 2.28 in the B-52's favor. But those were one-time costs and that money had already been spent. However, the Annual O&M and personnel costs for each B-52 was 17% higher than the B-58 and those were recurring costs. Put another way, for the cost of operating 66 B-52s you could operate 78 B-58s.

Regarding why the B-58 went away, originally Robert McNamara wanted it gone by mid 1970 (extended by him in 1966 to mid 1971) partly to create a need to be filled by his beloved F-111 (the FB-111 variant). Once, he was gone, though, for operational reasons in early 1969 the date moved out to at least 1974 by DoD. However, in the latter part of 1969 the head of SAC, apparently without input from his B-58 experts, briefed the Air Force Chief of Staff that 78 B-58s should be phased out in order to preserve about 60 older B-52s. General Ryan took this recommendation of his SAC Chief to SECDEF. Having earlier in the year extended the B-58 in service per AF input, OSD was now being told it wasn't wanted after all. SECDEF Laird then directed that the B-58 was to be gone by Jan 31, 1970
 
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F-14D

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Like I said, I was purposely doing wild speculation. I'm wasn't definitely promulgating that the whatever-it-is was the B-21, just tossing out an idea for discussion.

That said, a couple of thoughts on a the thoughtful questions raised:

"Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?" Sooner or later you've got to. Can't test everything at night. Happened with previous Black programs that later turned White.

"I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing". There were no big roll outs for the SR-71 and the F-117, and in the latter case it had already been announced that the aircraft was being built (remember the "F-19"?). Anyway, you can always have a public rollout any time you want. Doesn't mean it actually has to be before first flight... AF has already acknowledged that they've already assembled the first two test aircraft.

Remember, just strrin' the pot
 

rooster

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Didn't a B-58 cost three times as much as a B-52 to operate
No, not at all. A Hustler was slightly cheaper to operate, but some "creative accounting" made a powerful talking point that survives to this day.

I don't recall the exact numbers off the top of my head, but the talking point was created by saying the two Hustler wings were as expensive as six BUFF-equipped SAC wings. This ignored the fact that the Hustler wings had three times as many aircraft.
A BUFF wing was typically one bombardment squadron (BS) of 12-15 aircraft, frequently, but not always with an aerial refueling squadron. All 100+ Hustlers produced (minus operational losses) belonged to just two wings. The 63rd, 64th, 65th BS all belonged to one wing (43rd) in Little Rock, for example, as did the KC-135 squadron there.

Acquisition costs for the Hustler were roughly three times as much as a Buff, but that was sunk cost by the time the decision to retire them came about. SAC wanted to keep them, but the decision came down from on high.

Sorry for the delay on this and for a couple of other things I may post on this topic. I've got some input on the topic of B-52 vs. B-58 costs.

Each B-52 wing had 15 "Unit Equipped" (Air Force jargon, I don't know what it means), while each B-58 wing had 39 UE aircraft. One time acquisition cost of a B-58 was 2.46 times that of a B-52 in constant dollars. If you threw in planned tanker support for both but didn't count the four GAM-72 decoys usually acquired with each B-52, the ratio was still 2.28 in the B-52's favor. But those were one-time costs and that money had already been spent. However, the Annual O&M and personnel costs for each B-52 was 17% higher than the B-58 and those were recurring costs. Put another way, for the cost of operating 66 B-52s you could operate 78 B-58s.

Regarding why the B-58 went away, originally Robert McNamara wanted it gone by mid 1970 (extended by him in 1966 to mid 1971) partly to create a need to be filled by his beloved F-111 (the FB-111 variant). Once, he was gone, though, for operational reasons in early 1969 the date moved out to at least 1974 by DoD. However, in the latter part of 1969 the head of SAC, apparently without input from his B-58 experts, briefed the Air Force Chief of Staff that 78 B-58s should be phased out in order to preserve about 60 older B-52s. General Ryan took this recommendation of his SAC Chief to SECDEF. Having earlier in the year extended the B-58 in service per AF input, OSD was now being told it wasn't wanted after all. SECDEF Laird then directed that the B-58 was to be gone by Jan 31, 1970
The hustler was a slick looking airplane but was fraught with danger even in peacetime training flights. It needed to go. It would have needed significant re- engineering to be viable but we were knee deep in the b1a which was a better airplane. Recall the b1 was initially a regional bomber. There have been a lot writeups about the bone inception and its relatively short range when carrying external stores essentially making it a longer ranged 111.
 

Sundog

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Like I said, I was purposely doing wild speculation. I'm wasn't definitely promulgating that the whatever-it-is was the B-21, just tossing out an idea for discussion.

That said, a couple of thoughts on a the thoughtful questions raised:

"Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?" Sooner or later you've got to. Can't test everything at night. Happened with previous Black programs that later turned White.

"I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing". There were no big roll outs for the SR-71 and the F-117, and in the latter case it had already been announced that the aircraft was being built (remember the "F-19"?). Anyway, you can always have a public rollout any time you want. Doesn't mean it actually has to be before first flight... AF has already acknowledged that they've already assembled the first two test aircraft.

Remember, just strrin' the pot

Have they said both aircraft are completely assembled? I know they said the second was in assembly but I haven't seen any indication that either airframe is completed. Also, the second airframe is usually the structural testbed and not destined for flight. Just saying.
 

rooster

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Like I said, I was purposely doing wild speculation. I'm wasn't definitely promulgating that the whatever-it-is was the B-21, just tossing out an idea for discussion.

That said, a couple of thoughts on a the thoughtful questions raised:

"Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?" Sooner or later you've got to. Can't test everything at night. Happened with previous Black programs that later turned White.

"I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing". There were no big roll outs for the SR-71 and the F-117, and in the latter case it had already been announced that the aircraft was being built (remember the "F-19"?). Anyway, you can always have a public rollout any time you want. Doesn't mean it actually has to be before first flight... AF has already acknowledged that they've already assembled the first two test aircraft.

Remember, just strrin' the pot
The a12 and f117 were all flight tested in daylight.
 

rooster

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Like I said, I was purposely doing wild speculation. I'm wasn't definitely promulgating that the whatever-it-is was the B-21, just tossing out an idea for discussion.

That said, a couple of thoughts on a the thoughtful questions raised:

"Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?" Sooner or later you've got to. Can't test everything at night. Happened with previous Black programs that later turned White.

"I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing". There were no big roll outs for the SR-71 and the F-117, and in the latter case it had already been announced that the aircraft was being built (remember the "F-19"?). Anyway, you can always have a public rollout any time you want. Doesn't mean it actually has to be before first flight... AF has already acknowledged that they've already assembled the first two test aircraft.

Remember, just strrin' the pot

Have they said both aircraft are completely assembled? I know they said the second was in assembly but I haven't seen any indication that either airframe is completed. Also, the second airframe is usually the structural testbed and not destined for flight. Just saying.
If the second aircraft is just a static example they can certainly produce it faster than a flying article
 

Grey Havoc

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In theory at least. With all the bureaucracy these days for even the simplest things, I have to wonder though.
 

rooster

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In theory at least. With all the bureaucracy these days for even the simplest things, I have to wonder though.
Well knowing that #2 is for stress testing then logically they will complete a certain amount of tests long before #1 is doing high speed taxi testing.
 

F-14D

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The hustler was a slick looking airplane but was fraught with danger even in peacetime training flights. It needed to go. It would have needed significant re- engineering to be viable but we were knee deep in the b1a which was a better airplane. Recall the b1 was initially a regional bomber. There have been a lot writeups about the bone inception and its relatively short range when carrying external stores essentially making it a longer ranged 111.
After the B-58 became operational, there were 17 lost over 10 years. One was destroyed in a taxiing incidentt and two were lost at Paris airshows. Of those, one was while it was performing aerobatic maneuvers at low altitudes and one was lost on approach when the pilot got behind the power curve at low altitude, something critical for all pure deltas. Even including those unique accidents, that works out to a loss rate of 1.7 per year over 10 years (1.4 if we don't count those three). The B-47, for comparison, had 28 fatal accidents in just one operational year.

McNamara first ordered the B-58 killed in 1965, well before any major work was taking place on the future B-1. . He blocked the AMSA (which became the B-1). The RFP for AMSA by the new Administration didn't even go out until after the B-58 was canceled and the award for the development contract to North American Rockwell didn't even take place until 5 months after the B-58 had left the skies, so it didn't impact B-1A development.

The B-1A was a much better aircraft than the B-58, it was to replace the B-52, but with a weapons load in excess of 60,000 lbs internally, it's not likely you'd need to use the external weapons capability regularly. Yeah, range would go down when you started carrying bombs externally, but you'd know that when you decided you wanted carry a humongous load of external bombs.


Maybe some of these latest posts should be moved over to the B-58 topic?
 
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F-14D

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Like I said, I was purposely doing wild speculation. I'm wasn't definitely promulgating that the whatever-it-is was the B-21, just tossing out an idea for discussion.

That said, a couple of thoughts on a the thoughtful questions raised:

"Why would the USAF flight test a Black Program in broad daylight?" Sooner or later you've got to. Can't test everything at night. Happened with previous Black programs that later turned White.

"I doubt that there would be an unveiling of such thing as big as the B-21 without a big roll-out or a white house press briefing". There were no big roll outs for the SR-71 and the F-117, and in the latter case it had already been announced that the aircraft was being built (remember the "F-19"?). Anyway, you can always have a public rollout any time you want. Doesn't mean it actually has to be before first flight... AF has already acknowledged that they've already assembled the first two test aircraft.

Remember, just strrin' the pot
The a12 and f117 were all flight tested in daylight.
True. I didn't mention the A-12 because its very existence wasn't reealed until long after it had left service.
 

TomcatViP

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Regarding the two crashes discussed above:


 
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Maury Markowitz

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McNamara first ordered the B-58 killed in 1965, well before any major work was taking place on the future B-1
SLAB was completed in 1961. ERSA and LAMP in 1962. AMPSS was October 1963, which led directly to AMSA in early 1964. The AMPSS and AMSA aircraft are largely identical to the final design. While it is true he vetoed production, development continued throughout his tenure, including engine and avionics development, and Laird ordered it into production as-was when McNamara left.
 

F-14D

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I shudder to continue this off-topic discussion, but just for clarity, McNamara resigned in February, 1968 and his successor, Clark Clifford showed no more enthusiasm than McNamara for AMSA. I would opine that had Hubert Humphrey won the election, AMSA would never have seen the light of day. The RFP for the B-1 was actually issued in November, 1969 and Rockwell was awarded the contract in June, 1970, so I don't see why the B-58's O&M (which is a different pot of money) affected B-1 development one way or another.

I'll stay on topic now.
 
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piginapoke

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I thought the RQ-180 was rumoured to be designed to operate with the B-21. I am guessing there is also the rumours that the RQ-180 is armed so I don’t know if that means they have a secondary rule to take out defences for the B-21. Hence maybe the RQ designation is inaccurate?
In that role, it sounds like the RQ-180 is the modern equivalent of the cancelled AARS which would have supported the B-2 by locating mobile targets although I don't recall discussion of AARS being armed..
 
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jsport

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sferrin

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That could mean anything. Technically, the moment they started producing the forgings for long-lead parts they started "building". Now five in final assembly would be something, but I'd bet everything I own that is not the case. Not even close.

Looks like I may have been incorrect. It would be nice if things are moving this smoothly.
 
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bring_it_on

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They had 2 in production at Palmdale in early 2021. That number is now up to five. That means the entire EMD fleet is now at some stage of production so subsequent contracts will fund the production aircraft which should begin making their way to operational bases around 2026?
 

NeilChapman

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They had 2 in production at Palmdale in early 2021. That number is now up to five. That means the entire EMD fleet is now at some stage of production so subsequent contracts will fund the production aircraft which should begin making their way to operational bases around 2026?


IIRC, there were to be 2-3 development airframes preceding LRIP. LRIP was to be five lots totaling 21 airframes preceded by said development units. Production budget was supposed to be included in FY22 budget. So if 5 are under construction then perhaps it's in anticipation of FY22 budget? Not that I'm complaining. I'm glad they feel they have enough understanding to move forward.

An additional tweet by Weisgerber states they are all test aircraft. If that's the case, has something changed?
 

bring_it_on

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An additional tweet by Weisgerber states they are all test aircraft. If that's the case, has something changed?

No as most media writing on this has been speculative (and confusing, and often contradictory). I suspect two dedicated program flight test aircraft (one static and one flight testing), and three additional EMD aircraft that will be eventually upgraded and used operationally once testing finishes. We will know more once it is revealed next year and Northrop can open up and begin talking about its production plans just as they did once the B-2 was revealed.
 
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