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New U.S. Air Force Bombers Planned For 2018, 2035  
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 10312 times:

After decades of study, the U.S. Air Force has finally decided to press ahead with a developmental program with two overarching goals within a larger program of the modernization of its long-range strike capabilities: The achievement of operational status of a new model of bomber by 2018, and the deployment of a second, "true next-generation" model by approximately 2035, according to an article in Air Force Magazine Online. According to the article, the target year of 2018 was decided as a result of a confluence of various factors, including the increasing age of the U.S. bomber fleet. The Air Force has decided that it can no longer wait for the results of any further studies if it desires to meet that goal.

The "2018 bomber", as it is known, will incorporate technologies that will be deemed mature by that year, while the second model may incorporate more exotic technologies, including hypersonic or directed energy weapon capabilities.

The Air Force intends to finalize its requirements after a report currently in progress issues recommendations in March of 2007, after which the service is to draw up a request for the tender of proposals from industry later that year with the aim of achieving a demonstrated prototype by January of 2009. The article says that the Air Force has been in constant communication with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman concerning its plans.

The configuration of the 2018 bomber has not yet been determined, and it may be manned, unmanned, or "optionally manned", according to the article. The 2018 bomber may have variable-geometry wings and a supersonic dash capability, and it may incorporate Stealth technology. However, the Air Force may also consider the possibility of an "arsenal aircraft", such as a C-17 aircraft modified to carry dozens of cruise missiles.

For an extensive account of the Air Force's move toward finalizing its long-range attack aircraft proposal, please see the article referenced above at:

http://www.afa.org/magazine/oct2006/10062018.asp

[Edited 2006-10-13 06:59:00]

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 10170 times:

Well, to get a new bomber on the ramp by 2018, there are only a few choices, a B-2B, or a FB-22A. Since all of the tooling for the B-2A is still around, and the F-22A is in production, those are your only choices to get a flyable prototype by 2009.

But, the USAF is going to have a hard time telling Congress they need a new 2018 bomber program while at the same time reducing the B-52 fleet to 56 aircraft, the recently reduced B-1 fleet to 67 airplanes and only 16 B-2s.

What they need to work on is a C-130E/H replacement, instead.


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 10151 times:

I don't know if the B-1B's production tooling has been scrapped.

There were two relevant references I found from a brief search:

1. A lengthy document apparently dating from the year 2000 concerning license and legal framework issues relating to the Air Force's primary storage facility, known as the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) mentions that production tools for the B-1B, A-10, F-111, F-84, and other aircraft are stored there. The F-111 and F-84 are quite a bit older in design than the B-1B, raising the possibility that production tooling is held at AMARC indefinitely.

2. A document from a 1995 report issued by North American Rockwell, the B-1's original manufacturer, mentions that 80%, by value, of the B-1B's tooling remains in storage.

Sources:

www.afrl.af.mil/techtran/handbk/transferdocs/section_j.pdf (Air Force sample license; see in particular page 160, containing description of AMARC under its letterhead)

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/bomber/b1b-factbook.pdf (B-1B handbook)

The most recent keywords I used for the Google search were:

"B-1B AMARC production tooling" (without the quotes)

[Edited 2006-10-13 21:50:00]

User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 10137 times:

Addendum:

See also the currently available Air Force fact sheet on AMARC, which mentions, among other things, that the Center is working on F-4 aircraft for use as aerial drones. It does not mention the B-1B, but states that 350,000 line items of production tooling are maintained.

http://www.dm.af.mil/units/westcoast...ctsheet_print.asp?fsID=4383&page=1

Also:

Official AMARC Website (comprehensive):

http://www.dm.af.mil/

Unofficial AMARC Website (comprehensive; contains B-1 article):

http://www.amarcexperience.com/Default.asp

[Edited 2006-10-13 22:07:28]

User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 10105 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
What they need to work on is a C-130E/H replacement, instead.

There are two: C-130J and A400M.


User currently offlineLimaNiner From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 404 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 10028 times:

What about conversions of existing airframes into UCAVs?

Yes, I know all the arguments in favor of "butts in seats", but frankly, I think that we're moving into the era where manned vehicles will become uncompetitive. I'm not talking about taking humans out of the decision loop, just out of harm's way...


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 10025 times:

Quoting LimaNiner (Reply 5):
Yes, I know all the arguments in favor of "butts in seats", but frankly, I think that we're moving into the era where manned vehicles will become uncompetitive. I'm not talking about taking humans out of the decision loop, just out of harm's way...

There are some very imaginative concepts out there, including the possibility of fully unmanned, as well as optionally manned, bombers. There are also proposals for hypersonic bombers that skip along the boundaries of the atmosphere, and even exoatmospheric ones that would take ballistic trajectories toward their targets. Few of the more exotic concepts stand a reasonable probability of incorporation into the "2018 bomber", although an unmanned vehicle is not, by comparison, exotic. The "2035 bomber", however, could take the shape of a vehicle that is launched from, say, Nebraska on at least partially ballistic course for outer space. As it reaches the region of its target, but outside its defenses, it might deploy Stealth cruise missiles that glide the remaining miles of altitude necessary for nap-of-the-Earth flight and then speed supersonically toward their target. The benefit of an exoatmospheric bomber, as opposed to a ballistic missile, include flexibility, recallability, and unpredictability, although research into warheads configured as maneuverable re-entry vehicles (MARV's) conducted in the last several decades have introduced the possibility that ballistic missiles could fufill a simlar function to some extent. Unlike ballistic missiles, a hypersonic, exoatmospheric, or orbitally based bomber would be relatively immune from the results of a preemptive strike that disabled space-based assets necessary for the coordination and guidance of unmanned vehicle. Even advanced inertially guided missiles might rely at least in part on satellite uplinks that would not be available after such a catastrophic attack.

The continued value of cruise technology remains clear for the foreseeable future, however. Low-flying supersonic Stealth cruise missiles would seem to quite difficult to counter, even in this day of look-down-capable radar. Possible threats under development would be directed-energy weapons and anti-missile missiles capable of targeting and destroying such guided weapons in flight.

Given the potential for a threat-rich environment, the Air Force has made clear that it will consider the ability of a bomber to evade defenses, or to actively defend itself, a primary feature in its evaluation.

As the decades progress, I wouldn't be surprised to see the even greater integration of satellite technology in the detection of aerial threats than we have today. For this and other reasons, the protection of space-based assets will also become an important issue, as it has started to already.

Much of this technology is of only limited use in an age of terror, but the concerns of our military reach the full gamut of potential threats and extend beyond the immediate horizon. The high technology currently under development is obviously aimed more toward addressing the requirements of organized warfare conducted by large state actors, including, for example, China and Russia. It would hardly be shocking if the 2018 and 2035 dates were set by partial reference to the rising military power of China and the possibility that Russia may become a nationalist entity whose interests became more and more adverse to the West.

In more general terms, for a variety of reasons, it is my suspicion that the United States will no longer enjoy sole-superpower status by 2050; however, there is no reason to believe that the U.S. will not be one of only a few global superpowers, and probably still the strongest even among rough equals. If this is so, production of ultra-advanced bombers by 2035 would help maintain the edge required to maintain this country's position across the globe and into space itself.

[Edited 2006-10-14 08:12:26]

User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 9973 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
But, the USAF is going to have a hard time telling Congress they need a new 2018 bomber program while at the same time reducing the B-52 fleet to 56 aircraft, the recently reduced B-1 fleet to 67 airplanes and only 16 B-2s.

Might not be as hard as you think as both the B-52 and B-1 represent older technologies, though the B-1 isn't nearly as old as the B-52.



Dare to dream; dream big!
User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 9842 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Well, to get a new bomber on the ramp by 2018, there are only a few choices, a B-2B, or a FB-22A. Since all of the tooling for the B-2A is still around, and the F-22A is in production, those are your only choices to get a flyable prototype by 2009.

You forget about the "Black" projects. We might already have a prototype.

What we see here might be the formal transition to a normal budget line item.



Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 9813 times:

Quoting Thorny (Reply 4):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
What they need to work on is a C-130E/H replacement, instead.

There are two: C-130J and A400M.

USAF has not ordered the A-400M (nor are they likely too for several years, if ever). The C-130J is being bought, but in very small numbers. USAF was not happy that it took 5 years to get a few ANG C-130J combat ready.

Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 7):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
But, the USAF is going to have a hard time telling Congress they need a new 2018 bomber program while at the same time reducing the B-52 fleet to 56 aircraft, the recently reduced B-1 fleet to 67 airplanes and only 16 B-2s.

Might not be as hard as you think as both the B-52 and B-1 represent older technologies, though the B-1 isn't nearly as old as the B-52.

But, both the B-52H and B-1B are still viewed (by Congress) as very effective systems.

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 8):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 1):
Well, to get a new bomber on the ramp by 2018, there are only a few choices, a B-2B, or a FB-22A. Since all of the tooling for the B-2A is still around, and the F-22A is in production, those are your only choices to get a flyable prototype by 2009.

You forget about the "Black" projects. We might already have a prototype.

What we see here might be the formal transition to a normal budget line item.

That is a possibility, but some how I doubt any of the "black projects" are a bomber program. The SALT-II treaty prevents secret development of new bombers. New bombers can be developed, you just cannot do it behind closed doors. The B-2A program was not a black program.


User currently offlineKrisYYZ From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 1593 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 9813 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 8):
You forget about the "Black" projects. We might already have a prototype.

That was my first thought. Whatever is flying out of the "unnamed" air force base north of LAS maybe the prototype.

Any chance of these programs going international. Would the RAF or other NATO allies be interested or have a need for bombers?

Does the USAF like the B-1b? how often is it actually used in missions?

KrisYYZ


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 9792 times:

Quoting KrisYYZ (Reply 10):
Does the USAF like the B-1b? how often is it actually used in missions?

The B1-B was used extensivly to provide air support in Afganistan and Iraq, although I'm not sure how much combat they've seen once occupation duties took over.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 6):
Unlike ballistic missiles, a hypersonic, exoatmospheric, or orbitally based bomber would be relatively immune from the results of a preemptive strike that disabled space-based assets necessary for the coordination and guidance of unmanned vehicle

I'm personally highly opposed (or at least dubious) to the concept of exotic bombers, especially anything with the words "hypersonic" or "exoatmospheric."

I can't imagine the capabilities provided by such complex systems would warrant their expenditure. Just a pair of B2 bombers has the aquisiton cost of a super aircraft carrier, but which has more utility? Granted they serve different roles, but the "death spiral" of pouring more capability into a dwindling number of aircraft is the reality we face.

The JSF group made the comical observation that by 2060, the United States would opperate an air force of just a single aircraft: the USAF would get it MWF, the Navy Tues/Thurs/Sat, and the Marines and Army would exchange Sundays.

I would much rather see appropriations given immediatly to a stealthy, supersonic fighter bomber perhaps derrived from the F-22.

An eventual B-52, B-1B, and B-2A replacement should come in the form of a long-range, subsonic twinjet with low-maintenance stealth features. Stress low unit cost, high combat reliability, and survivability.

Use F-22B, F-22, F-35, cruise missiles, and stand-off munitions from this new bomber to "kick down" the door, then loiter with JDAM and SDB to clean-up.


User currently onlineAreopagus From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1373 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 9780 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 11):
The JSF group made the comical observation that by 2060, the United States would opperate an air force of just a single aircraft

Due to the cost of the F-14, F-15, and B-1, there was that kind of talk in the '70s, but said of the year 2000.


User currently offlineLimaNiner From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 404 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 9703 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 11):
I can't imagine the capabilities provided by such complex systems would warrant their expenditure.



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 11):
stand-off munitions from this new bomber to "kick down" the door, then loiter with JDAM and SDB to clean-up.

So... what's wrong with UCAVs in this role? Why can't a Global Hawk 2.0 loaded with tons and tons of JDAMs come in at 60k feet, awaiting orders/targets from SpecOps teams on the ground? Instead of dragging along a life support system (foor, lav, air, ...), bring along an extra 10k lbs of fuel for another 10 hours of loitering time.


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 14, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 9688 times:

Quoting LimaNiner (Reply 13):
So... what's wrong with UCAVs in this role?

Nothing...

If the USAF wants to build an aircraft 20 times mass and size of current generation UAV, more power to them.

I will attach a cavet: I want the tools of the United States military to work. I would rather see a new manned bomber in-service than billions spent on two prototype mega-UAV before the whole project is canned and we later decide on another upgrade to the B52. If we want new bombers, let's build them.

That is why I'm opposed to these hypersonic concepts. If you think any such platform can be placed in opperation by 2018, you are smoking crack cocaine. The article is explicit that only "mature" technologies will be used for the 2018 platform, so I hope there is no confusion.

And before we spend some god awful sum on the 2035 platform, let's all remember that logistics and feet on the ground win wars.

Quoting LimaNiner (Reply 13):
Why can't a Global Hawk 2.0 loaded with tons and tons of JDAMs come in at 60k feet, awaiting orders/targets from SpecOps teams on the ground? Instead of dragging along a life support system (foor, lav, air, ...), bring along an extra 10k lbs of fuel for another 10 hours of loitering time

I doubt anything derived from Global Hawk legacy would be of any use. With a MTOW of 22,000 lbs, it's utility is low (maybe nil) for the type of bombing force the USAF is discussing.

Building a thousand of them isn't reasonable. The smallest I'd expect any bomber to be is 737NG-mass.


User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 19
Reply 15, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 9667 times:

UAVs have a major fundamental flaw: when the satcom and satnav systems they rely on fail they're just so many unguided rockets.
The man behind the wheel is there for a reason, to take control when a non-standard situation is encountered.
If such weren't needed today's aircraft could pretty much fly the mission unmanned already (in fact Eurofighter is hailed as having the pilot on board as a backup for the computers...).

A manned exoatmospheric, hypersonic, bomber would be a great idea.
It can reach any point on the planet from the continental USA very rapidly, and operates in an area where nothing currently in service with other countries can touch it (though that can of course change).
And it's not a new concept, the idea was first proposed by Dr. Saenger around 1943 (he was of course a tiny bit ahead of his time and it never made it past some initial concept art).
It was later revived several times in the 1960s and 1980s.
The technology is feasible and most of it is available today, it would just need a rather large engineering effort to bring it all together into a single platform.

The NASP idea which was shelved after considerable effort and resources were expended could be a good starting point, maybe combined with technology created for Venturestar and HyperX.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12178 posts, RR: 51
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 9487 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 15):
UAVs have a major fundamental flaw: when the satcom and satnav systems they rely on fail they're just so many unguided rockets.

Not really, when a UAV looses its communications link, it reverts to flying a memory stored preplanned flight path. It will fly directly to a waypoint, then resume the preplanned flight plan, while it also searches for a frequency to reestablish the link. If it cannot restore communications, the preplanned flight plan should bring it home (unless of course it gets shot down).


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