Projects that should have been killed at birth

uk 75

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With the benefit of hindsight perhaps but in Britain at least there seem to be many candidates for projects that should have
been killed at birth.
The Bristol Brabazon or Short Princess?
Short Sperrin, Supermarine Swift, Gloster Javelin?
AEW Nimrod?
Concorde? TSR2?
CVF?
The poor old British taxpayer may well wonder if my question should be
"Which projects did not deserve to be killed at birth?"
 

Archibald

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- Saro Princess. And Brabazon, indeed. Although hindsight is always 20/20 in their cases.
- Valiant and Sperrin.

-CVA-01 was a floating heresy.
More generally: RN management of its large carrier fleet - Centaur, Audacious, Illustrious-siblings - was abysmal.
Victorious: the horror, the horror.
Ark Royal rather than Eagle past 1965.
The Centaur fleet being wasted into too many roles and ending standalones, then scrapped.

-TSR.2 because whatever amount of hatred they threw at it, the Buccaneer nonetheless stuck and ended in RAF service - and they LOVED it (muhahahaha !)

- Vixen, IOC 1954 for both RN and RAF variants. Screw that Javelin aerodynamic horror.

-Supermarine Swift - kill it, burn it. Blackburn Firebrand, too - the horror, the horror (as Le Fana said "errare humanum est - but perseverare diabolicum !")
(making one mistake is human, but persisting making the same mistake is devilish)

-Duncan Sandys should have been killed at birth (just kidding, but you get the point).

-Concorde was tons of prestige, but a money pit, unfortunately.
-No Bac 1-11 either: instead, don't shrink Trident and its Medways, you idiot.

-Jaguar should never, ever had happened. On the British side, Phantoms and Harriers could do its job. On the other side of the channel: MOAR Mirage, IIIE, V, and F1 - at far lower expense for the AdA.

-VSTOL were absolutely idiocy and way too much money and pilot lives wasted (although the British were lucky P.1127 wasn't murderous - at least in the prototype phase. The Harrier, on the other hand... shudders).

-VG was also an idiotic trend from a peculiar era (the 60's). At least GB only got paper projects there.

-F155T was waaay too big, Fairey ER.103 was the way to go.

-Lightning was a fine aircraft but flawed in concept, kind of. Climbing so fast for so little range... it was lucky to escape Sandys axe.

-rocketry: Black Archer IRBM, that is: a keroxide hybrid of Black Arrow and Blue Streak.
 
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Jerry_B

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Yes, the TSR.2 was pointless. Just a ridiculous concept easily covered by the Buccaneer. It's just a crap F-111, and the F-111 was also largely pointless. Ditto the B-1 and B-2. Just ridiculous.

I would also say that there was no need for the F-104, but Lockheed made it happen with certain 'incentives'.

Similarly, there is no need for the F-35 and new British carriers. It's just ridiculous. I'd laugh but it's just sad.
 

uk 75

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Yes, the TSR.2 was pointless. Just a ridiculous concept easily covered by the Buccaneer. It's just a crap F-111, and the F-111 was also largely pointless. Ditto the B-1 and B-2. Just ridiculous.

I would also say that there was no need for the F-104, but Lockheed made it happen with certain 'incentives'.

Similarly, there is no need for the F-35 and new British carriers. It's just ridiculous. I'd laugh but it's just sad.
Interesting line of argument
The UK had Buccaneer so didnt need TSR2 is reasonable.
What did the US have instead of F111? The two wings in UK were pretty vital to NATO.
B1 was arguably unnecessary with ALCM equipped B52s available. But B2 is a major leap forward.
The F104 was pretty cunning. Start with a simple point interceptor and turn it into the most widely used combat aircraft in NATO.
The two British carriers have come to depend on the jump jet version of F35.
I have criticised them on other threads. The 1966 decision to use our limited resources on SSN as capital ships remains the right one.
 

zen

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Irony the UK
We were right on ammo (.280)
Right on new carriers (1947)
Right on SAMs (though not able to realise it)
Right on nuclear weapons safety.
Wrong on low level strike (Vietnam)
Right on automation (CDS, ADAWS)
Right on SSNs...but fail to adequately realise this.
 

zen

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The problem with not making mistakes is......it's impossible.

In fact it's rather necessary to learn what not to do.

Out of your list, Javelin sticks out as a waste of resources. Despite it's limited success and early use of reheat.

Sea Vixen. Really there were better designs.

Sea Dart I've argued elsewhere.

Broomstick Type 988.

Arguably the automatic 3"/L70 twin turret.
The use of 4.5", in fact the whole diversion away from 4.7" developments.

Gyron Junior instead of funding properly new small turbojets.

Blue Streak.

Putting funds into Mauler proved a waste.

Right now Ajax and the whole debacle over Armoured vehicles for the British Army.

SA80, when frankly Sterling could've done a bulpup based on the AR18.

L
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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B-1B is kinda dopey.

Was it though? The Cold War was something of a numbers game and by the 80s, the B-52 was in some need of a running mate. I'm not an expert on SIOP but as I understand it there was a call for penetrating bombers effectively til the end. The B-52's ability to do so by the 80s was....on the wane.

What then to do? We'll leave aside the ATB which is just not ready in the time allotted. The B-1A is recent as it gets wrt US bombers, the production jigs are presumably still lying about somewhere. Why not adapt it to our low-level penetrator? What is the alternative? New build B-52s? I wouldn't. A brand new aircraft? As an aside, a 747 ALCM-spammer is unlikely. It can't penetrate if called for and there are easier ways in the 80s to deploy cruise missiles (Gryphons and soonly-available B-52s not least). Do nothing and effectively neuter one third of the TRIAD for what, at least a decade until ATB? I really don't see that happening!

There is also the deeper stratagem to consider here, i.e. the US's spending the Soviet Union to death. If 100 Bones don't warrant a counter-move, nothing will. That the B-1B's raison d'être evapourated early-ish in it's career is hardly a fault. In fact, it could be argued the B-1B succeeded brilliantly in it's primary role as a deterrent and that it's, yes expensive but effective service since has been a nice bonus!

TLDR - Prevented nuclear war - worth every cent!
 

Kat Tsun

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B-1B is kinda dopey.

Was it though?

Yes.

TLDR - Prevented nuclear war - worth every cent!

Alright so a lot of this is misunderstanding of the historical contexts (or conflation of historical perceptions with actual reality) that we have better info on since the 1990's. Allow me to explain, or you can scroll down to the TL;DR if you don't want to read it all.

Leaving aside the fact that "nothing" is just as viable an alternative as anything of the offered (and would be ideal, given how close B-1B and AGM-129 coincide in time), both blocs in the Cold War were inherently defensive in nature. Soviet war plans anticipated a surprise NATO attack hiding in a REFORGER exercise, in a similar fashion to NATO war plans anticipating an attack under the guise of a Zapad exercise, and the Soviets were about as interested in pursuing nuclear war as a matter of civilian policy as the US was, which means explaining the Cold War as some titanic struggle against the two superpowers and not simply two big countries disagreeing over their proxies and misinterpreting the other as being prepared for war like "the last guys" shaky at best.

Deterrence doesn't work if neither side is interested in starting a fight, because there's nothing to deter. This is the Cold War. It's highly debatable whether it functions if both sides are willing to poke and prod the other, either, and doesn't just make oblique strategies more effective (that is, if you consider the Marshal Plan as an act of economic warfare). This is the current era. The Red Army just planned to survive an atomic war, should America start one, which I suppose would be easy to misinterpret as aggression, and was something the West couldn't do because having redundant industrial centers and highly militarized economies are bad for business (literally).

The entire thing was a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what to do over Germany, which persisted right up to German reunification in 1990, with Margaret Thatcher being opposed to it because she was afraid of the same thing the Soviets were: that the Germans were going to start another world war. Eventually. It was one of the major reasons she split from the Tories and Major became PM, IIRC.

It feels a bit quaint nowadays but a lot of the Soviet leadership right up to the end were old fogies who fought the Germans in the Great Patriotic War. It was a much greater issue in 1948 when the United States and British Empire decided to recreate a unified German state instead of dismantling it outright as the French (to an extent) and the Soviets very muchly wanted. Since the single crux of the issue was "what do we do with Germany", because the Soviets had given up on expanding their reach beyond their immediate borders militarily after the Miracle on the Vistula, there was no serious argument that they would start an offensive war. The Warsaw Pact, Afghanistan, China, Yugoslavia, Albania: these were the prime Soviet enemies (notice how they are all buffer states or "fellow" communists and not places like France, Italy, or America), and China is a bit wiffly since the Red Army didn't launch some massive multi-army mechanized counter attack to retake the Amur River islands when Mao stole them. It just declared a ceasefire and let the diplomats handle it because if we go to war with China, the US might attack it in Europe. Japan and Korea were a distant second concern, as should the US decide to invade (the USSR was just as concerned as MacArthur was about Korea, in reality, but also less trigger happy due to having fewer atom bombs and bombers) through these countries then the Far East Theater would be kinda chewed up and spat out.

This was only unknown at the time since the Soviets were pretty mum about everything from how many nuclear warheads they had in their silos to how many teaspoons of baking soda to use in babushka's rye bread recipe, for a lot of different reasons ranging from the practical to the petty. Had the extent of the misunderstandings been known to both sides, the arms races would have been a lot less dramatic and militaries would have pared down their sizes much faster than they did IRL. Those monies would probably have gone to infrastructure or something more useful.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that B-1B was dopey from the start, simply because it doesn't even retain its nuclear attack role, and basically exists to be a more expensive B-52H or F-15E (i.e. a conventional bomb truck). With the foggy gaze of foresight, we know that ATB existed, which promised to be the regional bomber par excellence, and B-1B was considered (rightfully) redundant, along with the F-111 it was supposed to replace. So even on a technical level while it's nothing more than a fat F-15E, it still constitutes the most expensive aircraft in AFGSC's inventory. B-52H can use all its weapons (and a few more) and B-2 can survive in IADS far harsher than B-1B has any right to be thinking about given its lack of cruise missile carriage.

Its resurrection was pretty much the dreaded "interim weapon system" idea rearing its ugly head: you bring in a new weapon system to "cover" the perceived gap between an older weapon (B-52 with AGM-86) and an even newer one to replace both the old and interim systems (ATB/B-2). Naturally, neither happened and the USAF ended up stuck with three measly bombers, but at least for the nuclear war mission you can scratch B-1B off because it's a complicated and expensive hangar queen, and B-2 partly exists. Which is more than most interim weapons managed. Imagine how terrible it would be if B-1B destroyed any chance of the USAF getting B-2.

The better option would have been to push for faster development of AGM-129 but I guess that was too far ahead. The B-1B decision was made in 1981 and ACM didn't really show up on the idea board until the following summer. Shame. It could have been the other way around and we might have another 100 or so B-52Hs and a conventional AGM-129 to show for it instead of B-1B. That would be just as flexible, better for nuclear strike mission, and a bit cheaper.

FWIW, there is no air defense system in the world that can stop BGM-109, let alone AGM-129, reliably; so I doubt AGM-86 was in any real threat from Soviet IADS for as long as it existed. It would be more correct to say "the USAF thought B-52H and AGM-86 would be bad in the future against the Soviets" which is a good thing to think at the time, in lieu of historical evidence to the contrary, but very silly to think after Beqaa Valley, Desert Storm, and the current Syrian War.

We know now that AGM-86 and B-52H were probably more than adequate for defeating any potential Soviet IADS except the fantastical ones in the manuscripts of technothriller authors. Suffice to say I simply don't put much stock in the then-much touted ability of B-1B to survive the Soviets air defense zones if a tiny cruise missile with a much smaller radar, thermal, and visual signature flying in a similar altitude somehow can't survive either. Or a plane flying similar speeds but because one goes very slightly supersonic (which increases almost all relevant signatures except radar) it can somehow survive despite the slower plane have longer ranged weapons and maneuvering decoys. Just doesn't sound right to me, but that's probably because it isn't right. Naturally US estimates of Soviet IADS beyond 1985 were wildly optimistic (for the Soviets) because all good defense planning paints you as weaker than your enemy so you can secure more funding for your pet projects. Take whatever they thought 1985 would look like and it would be closer to what 1990 actually was, which is the time that ACM enters service in large quantity and fully obsoletes the B-1B in nuclear strike roles.

So B-1B either dies a horrible strategic bomber mission loss to 1990s era Soviet IADS with MiG-31s and A-50s and gets relegated to bombing Central Asian villages, like in reality, or B-1B can never be built in the first place and you spend that cool big bucks on a shiny new cruise missile a few months later and keep some of the older bombers in service after the Cold War ends in 1990. I tend to err on the side of caution rather than rash action, so I'd probably start a Defense Welfare Fund with the $20 bn and use it as a trust fund/sovereign wealth fund, for DOD to spend on neat toys that no one wants to fund out of the annual budget that year. Or the government in general. The latter would be more beneficial to people in general, but the former would be preferred by the folks who frequent this forum, so take your pick. But I'm not President Reagan nor any of his advisors.

The USAF could probably run a wing of A-10s or F-16s for another 5 years instead of pushing harder for JSF around this time had the money saved from combat missions over Kosovo and Central Asia because that FY81 $20 bn allocated to B-1B was spent on keeping an extra 100 B-52Hs in service and developing a more robust and substantial inventory of AGM-129s to replace all the AGM-86s one-for-one. So in the best possible case B-1B has more or less cost the USAF a bunch of otherwise free money that could have been better spent somewhere else, and shortly after it was resurrected from the grave and the money spent pretty much all justification for its existence kinda fell out from under it, because the main concern (cruise missile survivability) was addressed by AGM-129 in totality. But AGM-129 post-dates B-1B by a few months, so it's kinda impossible to just reverse the $20 bn spent on B-1B for faster production of cruise missiles.

The fact that B-52H retained the nuclear strike mission for decades with AGM-129, and B-1B lost it less than 5 years after the USSR broke up, speaks volumes about B-1B's suitability to its alleged job in general. It was the weakest link in SAC's strategic strike capability, besides maybe the F-111s in Europe, and nothing could really change that because it was fundamental to the airplane's shift from a high speed, high altitude bomber to a low speed, low altitude one, which made sense at the time given the knowledge of the time, but given the understanding of the reality of the situation (and not that ephemeral perception of understanding at the time), it was a mistake. Evidently, one incorrigible enough that B-1B hasn't been a nuclear capable aircraft for most of its lifespan (since 1995).

Of course in practice the ACM had its own issues, like union strikes, production delays, and generally crummy management, so it's not really a panacea except in the airy fairy world of armchair theorizing. Given it came about right after the Cold War ended it wouldn't have added much at the end, besides give the B-52H a powerful long arm in nuclear combat. Perhaps you could throw $10 bn at Lockheed and $10 bn at General Dynamics and have them make 1000 missiles a piece or something starting in FY81 or '82. That would be really chad and cool, like when Century Series planners were cranking out simultaneous runs of comparable aircraft from different manufacturers to produce redundancy, but would probably be too big brained for the US at the time. Might even see service before 1989 and you dodge the dreaded "interim weapon" silliness.

TL;DR: B-1B was dopey for a host of reasons that made sense at the time, some of that being general zeitgeist, and some being a scant couple of months in lifespan, which make no sense less than a year after contract award. Within historical context, as much as any weapon system can be evaluated (TSR-2 comes to mind, as it's essentially the British B-1) using hindsight: it was a total mistake and in a perfect world would have never been built, at least not for the job it was built for (strategic attack).

In a completely different job, like that of a Pacific minelayer, it would have been alright probably, but there was a glut of B-52H for that.

So there's not much you can do. It was a mistake, for sure, but one you can live with, and we have, but it was still kinda dopey.
 
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DWG

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The entire thing was a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what to do over Germany, which persisted right up to German reunification in 1990, with Margaret Thatcher being opposed to it because she was afraid of the same thing the Soviets were: that the Germans were going to start another world war. Eventually. It was one of the major reasons she split from the Tories and Major became PM, IIRC.

I don't recall the status of Germany cropping up at all at the time, and it wasn't so much a case of Thatcher splitting from the Tories as her opponents within the party queuing up for the opportunity to knife her in the back. The fundamental issue was Thatcher had repeatedly clashed with her own senior ministers, refused to take their economic advice (even the ones whose jobs were setting economic policy), and was perpetuating a confrontational relationship with the EU whose time had passed. At that point she'd been leader of the Conservatives for 15 years and was starting to be a liability rather than an asset. As soon as there were signs of weakness (signalled by the challenge by Sir Anthony Meyer), the party turned on her.
 

uk 75

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As I remember it, the Carter Administration cancelled the B1A in favour of ALCMs and ATB but left wriggle room for it to be reinstated instead of the FB111H alternative .
The Reagan Administration reacting to the climate created by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the US election embarked on a rapid arms build up. This meant going for anything that could be done quickly and look impressive. B1 fitted the bill.
Back in 1980 we pretty much (as did Arthur C Clarke) expected the Cold War to be rumbling on in the 21st Century. So the B1 would have been in SAC throughout.
 

isayyo2

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I think I understand @Kat Tsun argument and I don't disagree. The B-1A would have been an impressive B-52 replacement, the B-1B was a jobs program for Rockwell and a core tenant in Reagan's military buildup vision. I believe I read somewhere that they scattered B-1 subcontractors in almost every state to keep the program politically viable?

With hindsight, modernization of the B-52 and F-111 fleet into a common standard, procurement of 400 F-15Es as originally intended, and further priority to the ATB/B-2 might have been the better route.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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The trouble is in the timeframe in question, with ye rusty decision gate on to B-1B or not to B-1B circa 83-84, F-15E is a single Strike Eagle demo bird at best, the B-2 is vapourware and the majority of F-111s are TAC (excluding the FB-111As natch).

If you think the SAC mafia will willingly sacrifice their fighting potential to TAC, and wait a decade minimum to be back in the game with the B-2, you're having a larf! You cannot hold the Soviet Union under thread with tactical strike aircraft and sales brochures! If you try, there will be blood on the Hill.

The B-1B became a big TAC-air bird but it wasn't conceived as such. I think there is waaay too much 21st century sensibility being applied to the late Cold War paradigm. It was a different age. The B-1B looks expensive & unnecessary now but then? Under the nuclear spectre? What price freedom?

Now if you want to argue it has outlived it's usefulness subsequently, there is an argument to be made but I guarantee you, SAC were never going to tolerate any late-80s bomber gap.
 

kaiserd

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The trouble is in the timeframe in question, with ye rusty decision gate on to B-1B or not to B-1B circa 83-84, F-15E is a single Strike Eagle demo bird at best, the B-2 is vapourware and the majority of F-111s are TAC (excluding the FB-111As natch).

If you think the SAC mafia will willingly sacrifice their fighting potential to TAC, and wait a decade minimum to be back in the game with the B-2, you're having a larf! You cannot hold the Soviet Union under thread with tactical strike aircraft and sales brochures! If you try, there will be blood on the Hill.

The B-1B became a big TAC-air bird but it wasn't conceived as such. I think there is waaay too much 21st century sensibility being applied to the late Cold War paradigm. It was a different age. The B-1B looks expensive & unnecessary now but then? Under the nuclear spectre? What price freedom?

Now if you want to argue it has outlived it's usefulness subsequently, there is an argument to be made but I guarantee you, SAC were never going to tolerate any late-80s bomber gap.
But they already had that with the cancellation of the B-1A. The B-1B primary owes it existence to US politics and Reagan era levels of defence spending.
The B-1B as a low altitude penetrator when the Russian are already preparing and fielding counters to ALCMs, tomahawks etc. is going to suffer. And in reality it suffered technical problems with its terrain following radar and ECM suit that weren’t remotely sorted by the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, significantly degrading its real-world capability in that role.
Most accurately the B-1B grew into it’s usefulness post 9-11 with its non-nuclear roles.
 

CJGibson

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Has this now become a real project?

'rocketry: Black Archer IRBM, that is: a keroxide hybrid of Black Arrow and Blue Streak.'
 

Kat Tsun

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The entire thing was a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what to do over Germany, which persisted right up to German reunification in 1990, with Margaret Thatcher being opposed to it because she was afraid of the same thing the Soviets were: that the Germans were going to start another world war. Eventually. It was one of the major reasons she split from the Tories and Major became PM, IIRC.

I don't recall the status of Germany cropping up at all at the time, and it wasn't so much a case of Thatcher splitting from the Tories as her opponents within the party queuing up for the opportunity to knife her in the back. The fundamental issue was Thatcher had repeatedly clashed with her own senior ministers, refused to take their economic advice (even the ones whose jobs were setting economic policy), and was perpetuating a confrontational relationship with the EU whose time had passed. At that point she'd been leader of the Conservatives for 15 years and was starting to be a liability rather than an asset. As soon as there were signs of weakness (signalled by the challenge by Sir Anthony Meyer), the party turned on her.

This is all true, though her economic advisors were sort of bad at their jobs given hindsight of fears of the German economy dominating Eurozone members. 30 years and that's exactly what's happened. That said I think the "they'll do it again" was a tongue-in-cheek comment Thatcher made while analogizing her fears of German economic dominance to the Irish PM.

But that's a side tangent to why B-1B was kinda dopey. Another dopey thing was AH-56, since it combined the worst aspects of AH-1G and AH-64, which was lame hover performance and brick-like maneuverability, into a single aircraft. Too fat to be a tank buster and too unwieldy to be a close support gunship. A big oof but luckily it died.

The trouble is in the timeframe in question, with ye rusty decision gate on to B-1B or not to B-1B circa 83-84, F-15E is a single Strike Eagle demo bird at best, the B-2 is vapourware and the majority of F-111s are TAC (excluding the FB-111As natch).

If you think the SAC mafia will willingly sacrifice their fighting potential to TAC, and wait a decade minimum to be back in the game with the B-2, you're having a larf! You cannot hold the Soviet Union under thread with tactical strike aircraft and sales brochures! If you try, there will be blood on the Hill.

The B-1B became a big TAC-air bird but it wasn't conceived as such. I think there is waaay too much 21st century sensibility being applied to the late Cold War paradigm. It was a different age. The B-1B looks expensive & unnecessary now but then? Under the nuclear spectre? What price freedom?

Now if you want to argue it has outlived it's usefulness subsequently, there is an argument to be made but I guarantee you, SAC were never going to tolerate any late-80s bomber gap.

Yes, I am using a lot of 21st century (actually ~1995) hindsight, considering the conceit of the thread is "with hindsight what programs should have died", so it's pretty fair game.

With hindsight, B-1B was a dumpster fire through and through. It's no better at penetration than B-52H. It's certainly worse than F-117 or B-2. It's also a worse cruise missile carrier than B-52H. And it's really slow. Mach 1.6 dash isn't all that much to talk about when B-1B's immediate predecessor was a Mach 3 stratocruiser. Had B-1B turned out to be B-70 reincarnated then it might have had a real and genuine purpose, but that was too big brained at the time and nowadays is really quite quaint given orbiting SBIRS can track Badgers (a much slower plane) during their flights. Though perhaps that is what prevented that, since the USAF and USN were interested in slow walker detection from orbit in the '80's, and supposedly had it with supersonic dashers and DSP.

Anyway if DOD had waited 18 months then they could have had ACMs, another hundred-odd B-52Hs, at much smaller cost than $20 bn, and avoided the whole thing entirely. Maybe that $20 bn could have been spent on highways or something instead.

Yes, NATO and the Soviets were equally laboring under the delusion that the other side was going to attack first, so they invested a lot of money into things that were unnecessary and irrelevant, given that had they known neither side planned a "first strike" they would have probably eased back what little political tension they had significantly (certainly there was so little tension that neither side went to any major blows, unlike the 1930's, despite the Red Army being built to fight and survive nuclear combat to an absurd degree). So I suppose "freedom" has a price tag of $20.1 billion FY81 dollars, I guess? But again you're mistaking perceptions for reality. The reality never changed, perceptions just shifted to match the reality closer. This is all hindsight is: looking at the, or something resembling the, then-current reality of a situation as opposed to a more biased perception.

Also "bomber gap" is funny considering the USAF had like 400 B-52Hs and 1,800 air launched nuclear cruise missiles in inventory. The Soviet Air Defense Forces would have stood no chance in combat against such a force due to how they were organized (poor inter-sector support/communications being the main weakness) and the material quality of their interceptors (predominantly Floggers with a handful of Foxhounds, Foxbats, and Flagons). There was no bomber gap: The US would have just done a cruise missile stream and been done with the thing in a few hours.

But that would require SAC to think as a team player instead of a selfish player. DOD has a shitty management problem with all the branches and their various support commands being too independent. They need to be brought to heel by a Defense General Staff who simply orders them to do something based on national goals and material limits, like how the Soviet General Staff simply ordered the various component pieces of their military chessboard to do things.

While it doesn't eliminate the problem of parochialism, as the Soviets had plenty (just ask TsAGI or MOM), it definitely reduces it within the military itself. No Soviet pilot complained that the Frontal Aviation was training helicopter pilots instead of the Red Army. US has tried and failed to do this plenty of times, with its current experiment of COCOMs being a somewhat successful sidestep akin to Soviet TVDs, but irrelevant in linking national objectives or arms procurement with requisite correlations of forces and means.

Thus DOD continues to waste money on Christmas hams like B-1B.
 
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Opportunistic Minnow

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To be honest, I didn't clock the OP's "with the benefit of hindsight" which renders this thread meaningless (for me). With hindsight, you are almost-never going to arrive at the same conclusion as those originally and a whole host of decisions can be subject to derision. We can all look so very clever after the fact!

Far more interesting (for me) is to put yourself in their shoes. Given that some subsequent knowledge will inevitably creep in regardless of intention, this may very well be a fool's errand but c’est la vie.

In that light, the B-1B looks to me like a perfectly justifiable decision of it's time, overtaken by events. That'll be life then too.
 

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The real tragedy for the USAF is that they didnt keep the Gs and even the big belly D/F variants of the B52 which were arguably more useful than B1.
Upgrading with new engines on the underwing pylons would have been easy.
 

isayyo2

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The real tragedy for the USAF is that they didnt keep the Gs and even the big belly D/F variants of the B52 which were arguably more useful than B1.
Upgrading with new engines on the underwing pylons would have been easy.
The pre G models had some serious fatigue issues unfortunately which is why they were all retired by the early 80s. I think most of the early models were gone by 1973?
Somewhere here on the forum is the description of a B-52 "I" model which was a B-1A alternative consisting of Gs and Hs upgraded to a common standard.
 
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Kat Tsun

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The real tragedy for the USAF is that they didnt keep the Gs and even the big belly D/F variants of the B52 which were arguably more useful than B1.
Upgrading with new engines on the underwing pylons would have been easy.

TBF, even without the -G's a few hundred B-52Hs would probably be better. B-1B turned into a B-52H with a higher maintenance and operations cost even after the nuclear mission and its associated costs were deleted. Now they have some sort of fatigue issues that limit their supersonic hours I guess whereas the B-52Hs don't seem to have much of a problem comparatively speaking.

To be honest, I didn't clock the OP's "with the benefit of hindsight" which renders this thread meaningless (for me). With hindsight, you are almost-never going to arrive at the same conclusion as those originally and a whole host of decisions can be subject to derision. We can all look so very clever after the fact!

Far more interesting (for me) is to put yourself in their shoes. Given that some subsequent knowledge will inevitably creep in regardless of intention, this may very well be a fool's errand but c’est la vie.

In that light, the B-1B looks to me like a perfectly justifiable decision of it's time, overtaken by events. That'll be life then too.

As I said, B-1B made sense for a brief period of about 18 months, then AGM-129 came into play. That said, this was obvious with the ATB in the '70's. Someone probably asked off handedly "what if we made the AGM-86 a stealth missile like F-117?" in a meeting. It's also why Carter killed it, but no one was going to talk about Senior Prom or F-117 or ATB in public at the time.

Of course by 1981 the monies had already been spent and the Air Force Secretary was going to make darn sure that not a cent more was spent on the white elephant, which is why spending was capped at $20.1 bn FY81 dollars for 100 airframes, and the aircraft came in around that. Rockwell got a big fat paycheck and managed to deliver without blowing it all on stock buybacks (which hadn't been legalized yet) or CEO bonuses.

Carter's decision to nuke the program was reasonably foresighted. Fittingly, he was a nuclear engineer by training, and thus pretty intelligent, as most good leaders inevitably must be intelligent or else they fall into pitfalls that require thinking ahead. A second term for Carter would probably have procured another hundred B-52s to cover the SAC gap, and lots of ACMs, instead of what we actually got. Which was no ACMs and 100 fewer cruise missile carriers, but some nice Big Belly replacements for the offensive minelaying job.

Given the performance metrics of cruise missiles it's clear that they were (deliberately, perhaps, since both the USSR and NATO allies were well aware of the capability of cruise missiles in general, so it's hard to imagine AF planners weren't, they were just feeling left out by not getting a shiny new plane versus some more refurbished B-52s) the better choice.

This would also be good because it would save money in the long run that could be used on more important things. Who knows what that $20.1 bn in FY81 would buy, but that would be about 8-9% of DOD's budget in FY21 if you want a comparison point to think about.
 
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isayyo2

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second term for Carter would probably have procured another hundred B-52s to cover the SAC gap
I agree with everything asides from this, the last B-52 rolled off the line in Oct 62 and I doubt the production tooling in Wichita was still around... Rather it would be likely for the Gs & Hs to be brought to a common standard and continue praying for the B-2 and F-117 programs. A big maybe would be DC-10 cruise missile carriers to go along with the new KC-10s?
 

Kat Tsun

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second term for Carter would probably have procured another hundred B-52s to cover the SAC gap
I agree with everything asides from this, the last B-52 rolled off the line in Oct 62 and I doubt the production tooling in Wichita was still around... Rather it would be likely for the Gs & Hs to be brought to a common standard and continue praying for the B-2 and F-117 programs. A big maybe would be DC-10 cruise missile carriers to go along with the new KC-10s?

They would get nothing. Which is smarter than any other option.

SAC would make do with whatever B-52G/Hs they had, while the FB-111s continue trucking along in Europe, and nothing changes: This would be extremely foresighted considering the Cold War ended in 1989 and the 24 hour alerts ended in 1991. Given that most of those B-52Gs and Hs were demolished with plenty of flight hours left, and Australia flew F-111Gs for decades, there was no serious rush to replace anything with B-1B besides "shiny new plane" and unfounded (in practice) fears of ALCM obsolescence.

If the PVO were genuinely capable of interdicting ALCM (they weren't, but it was non-obvious which was the case, though CIA and DIA were aware the PVO was probably more afraid of ALCM simply due to the target density presented by a cruise missile stream on a PVO air defense sector; but they also thought the PVO might be controlling battle management systems with photonic computers [which we still can't make today]) but not a much bigger airplane that flew faster at similar altitudes they wouldn't have been so afraid of the ALCM threat and invested so much in low altitude interception capability. B-1B was probably a sigh of relief because it meant the US wasn't getting many more cruise missiles (B-1 used SRAM) until Double Track happened.

Perhaps the only change is 250 B-52s instead of 350 are chopped up at AMARC, and more cruise missiles are converted to haul 3,000 lbs warheads thousands of miles. Which is exactly what critics of B-1B were wanting in the first place, although no one had concrete evidence that cruise missiles were especially dangerous until Desert Storm, it was all theoretical before that.
 
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riggerrob

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Canada's Gregor FDB-1 airplane, Bobcat Armored Personnel Carrier and HMCS Brador hydrofoil.

Michael Gregor designed the FDB-1 biplane fighter dive-bomber along similar lines to the Grumman FF Goblin, two-seater fighters that Canadian Car and foundry had just built for the Spanish Civil War ... er RCAF. While prettier than the Grummans, as a biplane, the FDB-1 was an anachronism that was ignored by the RCAF. Only a single prototype was built and flown.

The Canadian Army's Bobcat APC's development dragged out through much of the 1950s, wasting a few million dollars while only producing three prototypes that frequently threw tracks, etc.. Tracks broke because they were designed to run on snow, but were not nearly durable enough for gravel. Infantry were thankful when the Canadian Army purchased FMC M-113 APCs instead. Bobcat's rear troop compartment was noisy, cramped, and difficult to enter.

Finally, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Brasdor started as a British Coastal Command project to develop high speed coastal patrol vessels (think torpedo boats) but was eventually fobbed off on the Canadian Research Council who in turn fobbed off the project on the RCN. Too bad that RCN had already decided that teams of destroyers and helicopters were the best way to protect North Atlantic convoys. HMCS Brasdor was too far ahead of her time, suffering cracks and leaks in her foils and shafts because 1960s metallurgy was not up to the strains.
 
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publiusr

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There is a part of me that wishes the computer chip had not been made…forcing larger rockets and a greater human space presence that could have given us advances we don’t have now. The computer chip should have been invented on a Mars base.
 

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