ACCESS: Above Top Secret
- Apr 2, 2006
- Reaction score
Does anyone have something to share about this project?
Northrop Grumman has unveiled its preliminary designs for a future replacement for the heavy bomber fleet. The bomber could be operational by 2030. The other participants in the USAF year-long study are Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The study, conducted at Wright-Patterson AFB is expected to be renewed on a year-by-year basis by the companies that stay interested in the bomber development. The program began in early June.
Northrop Grumman futuristics are looking at three classes of aircraft:
1) Subsonic: flying wing based on refinements to the B-2 concept
2) Supersonic: appears to be a cross between the B-1 and B-2 and would be capable of cruising at supersonic speed
3) Hypersonic: air-breathing, wave-rider concept designed to operate entirely within the atmosphere. Weapons are launched from multiple rails from the rear of the vertical tails at hypersonic speed
Also under consideration is a subsonic Unmanned Global Strike Aircraft design that could operate autonomously or in a group (up to four aircraft) controlled by a third crewman in a modified B-2
USAF is completing its work on the bomber plan, first released last year (1999). It called for upgrades to B-52H, B-1B, B-2A, but not a new aircraft until 2037. Dissatisfied with that plan, Congress told the Air Force to look at more aggressive upgrades and buying a low-cost B-2 around 2015. That referred B-2C has spurred industry to come up with alternatives for such a solution. However, industry officials acknowledge that chances are slim . "We don't think a follow-on bomber until 2030-35 or later. A B-2C or similar system is not on the cards
Neither Congress nor the USAF defined what could be considered low cost
The notional program would be for 100-130 bombers
Boeing and Northrop Grumman are putting together competing proposals
Northrop-Grumman has focused most of its unorthodox thinking on B-X designs. The company's near-term thinking, however has been directed toward the B-2 and reducing its cost targeting its production cost at $500-million
Boeing has developed several different concepts to challenge Northrop-Grumman in case a 2015 low-cost bomber program is launched eliminating futuristic tech such as hypersonics:
1) The most unorthodox thinking has gone into developing a commercially derived bomber. One concept is based on Boeing's 767. To meet low-observability, engines are moved into the aft portion of the fuselage with the inlet on top. The vertical tail would be replaced with V-tail. RAM would be applied to the outer fuselage to achieve stealth performance
2) The second commercial derivative centers on the BWB which the company hopes to have launched by 2015. The main changes would be the weapons bays in the aircraft's center section and the application of RAM materials
3) A pure military concept looks similar to the B-2
4) A second military candidate builds on Boeing's DARPA UCAV program but substancially larger. It would be a single-engine system able to carry 50,000 -75,000 lb of ordenance internally. Aircraft's weight would be about 240,000 lb
Hood said:I think the USAF dosen't exactly know what it wants. By 2037 a hypersonic unamnned very high-alt bomber might be practical. Any design design begun now might be outdated, SAMs might force them to go low and fast again. The design work must begin soon though given the likely complexity and cost of the programme.
The FB-22 seems the most reasonable shorter-tem cheaper option.
The 767 derivitive is going back to the 1920-30s with airliner verison of bombers!
Given the cheaper cost and lower development time this could be a good idea. The higher RCS is probably balanced by the cheaper cost and greater bomb-bay capacity.
The Air Force is looking to get a "next generation" long-range bomber by 2018, according to the commander of Air Combat Command.
SOC said:The best answer is an aerospace plane. It can be the B-3, the solution to Prompt Global Strike, and would revolutionize warfare. You'd also need a much smaller tanker fleet, and you'd be able to strike targets in minutes from CONUS.
Matej said:Without any usable data.
In this context, it may be noteworthy that Lockheed Martin has exhibited a model of a 70-tonne Mach 2 unmanned aircraft.
flateric said:a). Mach .85 Concept - Represents an advanced technology version of current inventory
Un-refueled range ~ 13,000 nm