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Out Of The 'Blue: New B-2As Needed?  
User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8776 posts, RR: 3
Posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6181 times:

Obviously the USA does some bombing. Probably a good deal more than we read in the newspapers. Since we lost 1 B-2A recently, and have 20 remaining, and the program was cut brutally short to begin with, should more B-2 Spirits be built? Does the tooling still exist? Would they be fairly cheap to build or still very expensive?

If USAF needs more bombers, (or if we intend to retire ANY in current inventory), would B-2 be the go-to product or would another new model be drawn up and if so, why? What does the future hold for our bomber fleets? Thanks for your comments.

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7725 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6137 times:

Unfortunately, in th US today they do not re-produce airframes once the production line stops, by the time the a/c finally flies it would have to be called the B3 after all the updates, re-modelling, etc. etc. better to just build a whole new a/c, the cost will be cheaper.

User currently offlineBladeLWS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6129 times:

As far as I remember all the tooling for the B-2 production line was destroyed.

User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6081 times:



Quoting Par13del (Reply 1):
Unfortunately, in th US today they do not re-produce airframes once the production line stops, by the time the a/c finally flies it would have to be called the B3 after all the updates, re-modelling, etc. etc. better to just build a whole new a/c, the cost will be cheaper.

Not exactly true. Lockheed shut down production line for the P-3 in Burbank California, then moved it to Palmdale California, then when all the US Navy P-3 were built, moved the production line to Marietta Georgia to build 8 more P-3's for the South Koreans.


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (6 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6016 times:



Quoting Par13del (Reply 1):
Unfortunately, in th US today they do not re-produce airframes once the production line stops

That's not true. The C-5B reentered production about 13 years after C-5A production stopped. We have the capability to restart production of a number of airframes if we wanted to.

Quoting BladeLWS (Reply 2):
As far as I remember all the tooling for the B-2 production line was destroyed.

It was not. Northrop Grumman disassembled and mothballed the tooling, but it can be re-assmbled if the USAF wanted more. Same for the B-1, which I think may be a more compelling option in the form of the B-1R.


User currently offlineWvsuperhornet From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 517 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5337 times:



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 4):
It was not. Northrop Grumman disassembled and mothballed the tooling, but it can be re-assmbled if the USAF wanted more. Same for the B-1, which I think may be a more compelling option in the form of the B-1R.

I agree I think a B-1R would be a more viable platform. Although I am not sure losing 1 B-2 is a big deal to the airforce, my understanding is 1 or 2 of the B-2's now are currently being used as a test platform anyway, so it would be that much of a stretch to replace the crashed B-2 with one of those. If I am wrong please someone correct me on that.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13254 posts, RR: 77
Reply 6, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5145 times:

When the USAF keep on about how they are not getting nearly enough F-22's, when they have the F-35 coming down the road. When they have issues with modernising the hard pressed transport fleet, with all those aging tankers, No.
The B-2 is justified as a 'silver bullet', the implication here being it's so effective, few are needed.


User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5112 times:

More B-2s were considered (Northrop-Grumman lobbied extensively for them) but the Air Force has decided to move on to a next generation bomber, probably to be the B-3 around the end of the next decade.

User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5033 times:

Quoting GDB (Reply 6):
The B-2 is justified as a 'silver bullet', the implication here being it's so effective, few are needed.

GDB you really have my head scratching. I'm hardly a grammar Nazi, but three loosely connected sentence fragments doesn't give us much insight into your mind.

As to this particular comment, I don't think the USAF has ever made the implication that the B-2 is a "silver bullet." It certainly has short-comings that require the USAF to operate a number of other ground attack aircraft.

Also, the original B-2 order was for 132 bombers. The order wasn't cut back because it was such an effective aircraft, but because the Soviet Union collapsed and the need for so many strategic bombers was (believed to be) greatly reduced. And let's face it, by the 1980s, the role of strategic bombers in nuclear doctrine had been greatly diminished since the 1950s when the B-52 was coming off the production lines. Unit cost of the B-2 wasn't the only reason there was never going to be 1:1 replacement of the Stratofortress IMO.

[Edited 2008-09-18 15:05:07]

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13254 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4872 times:

Post Cold War, the B-2 has indeed been mooted as a silver bullet.
That is, a single platform that can provide a level of capability out of all proportion to the size of the fleet.
Or even as a single aircraft on a mission, a mission that does not require SEAD support, ECM support, fighter escort - and that's assuming that it's going up against a decent SAM/AD /Interceptor network.
And hit targets having a very major effect on a potential enemy.

Quite frankly, the USAF were lucky to have got any B-2's post Cold War, given it's original mission.
Luckily for the B-2, it could adapt to a new mission, but large numbers would not be needed.
After all, further down the stealth scale, F-117 only amounted to 59 aircraft.

With a newish fleet of very expensive B-1's in the early 1990's, with a decent size fleet of modernised B-52's, both of which could and would be easily adapted for the new world, it was a big ask by the USAF for a whole bunch of expensive new bombers.

The B-52 was not going to be replaced directly, post Cold War, by the B-2's, the old Buff also in many ways is a more versatile platform.
Maybe 40 B-2's would have been a better long term investment from the start, but it did not happen and the costs of opening the line again now, seems an odd way for a budget strained force to spend tax $.

Thorny has mentioned that proposed '2018 Bomber', an impression of which was unveiled some time ago.
Not high speed, not large enough to replace the B-52's or B-1's, not a lot of point to it at all it seems, unless your a contractor. And USAF staffer in the Pentagon wanting a nice new project to base a career on.
I've mentioned the other priorities the USAF faced, then they propose this aircraft!

If they need something between the F-22 and the heavy bombers, why not go for FB-22?
But given the planned out of service dates for both B-1 and B-52, to eventually replace them, as far away as it is from now, you are looking at an unmanned platform, maybe an exotic one, with the high speed perhaps.

If they really must have a new project, start the seed work on such a platform, but since the B-1/B-52 fleet are many years off retirement, it's hardly a major priority right now.


User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 913 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4857 times:

What is needed is a stealth B-1 type bomber. If the B-2 gets visually spotted, it is toast, while a B-1 has a fighting chance.

If I was to design a platform, it would be a manned/unmanned system. 1 aircraft would be manned, leading a group of unmanned bombers. Supersonic, stealth, maybe even some jamming capacity. There would be a fore and aft missile defense system similar to the one developed for airliners, and it would have a long range defensive capacity to down incoming bogeys. Everything would be stored internally when the thread level was high, then strap on pylons for external munitions when you need a bomb truck.

Current designs are so uncreative. In todays world lines need to be blurred to bet the best possible platform. Imagine what a B-1 could do with F119 engines and a load of long range air to air missiles?


User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4852 times:



Quoting Oroka (Reply 10):
What is needed is a stealth B-1 type bomber. If the B-2 gets visually spotted, it is toast, while a B-1 has a fighting chance.

Well, the Bone is faster but that's it's only advantage. The only hope in a bad situation would be to get low and fast and hope to get lost in the ground clutter. Unless it could put some serious distance between it and an adversary in a hurry, then it'd be in trouble. The combination of today's radar missiles and "look down, shoot down" radars is pretty effective.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 10):
Imagine what a B-1 could do with F119 engines and a load of long range air to air missiles?

The F-22 engines provide certain advantages to the "B-1R" but greatly decrease it's range. The "B-1R" wouldn't be a long-range bomber but more of a "regional bomber".



Airliners.net Moderator Team
User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 913 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4838 times:

I thought the F119 would increase range with its supercruise ability in the F-22. I cant imagine the F119 being less efficient than the 80s era F101.

User currently offlineMCIGuy From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1936 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4835 times:



Quoting Oroka (Reply 12):

Nah, the "R" in "B-1R" stands for "Regional". The F119s would give it a much higher top speed but at the cost of range.  Smile



Airliners.net Moderator Team
User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 913 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 4827 times:

Well, that is just stupid. I never knew that is what the 'R' was for in B-1R. After some reading, the B1-R would have a mach 2.2 sprint speed while loosing 20% of its range. Not sure of .2 mach is worth loosing 20% of your range.

So if you put F119s in a hornet, would it loose range too? Im not doubting the numbers, but it just seems odd. The F-22 must have significantly more fuel capacity than a hornet to have good range and speed with F119s.


User currently offlineWvsuperhornet From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 517 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 years 3 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4426 times:



Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 11):
Well, the Bone is faster but that's it's only advantage. The only hope in a bad situation would be to get low and fast and hope to get lost in the ground clutter. Unless it could put some serious distance between it and an adversary in a hurry, then it'd be in trouble. The combination of today's radar missiles and "look down, shoot down" radars is pretty effective.

I would check I think the B-1 has a payload capacity advantage over the B-2 also or at least I have read before the the B-1 has the largest bomb capacity in the airforce. Also the B-1 does have some low Radar visability built into it.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 14):
Well, that is just stupid. I never knew that is what the 'R' was for in B-1R. After some reading, the B1-R would have a mach 2.2 sprint speed while loosing 20% of its range. Not sure of .2 mach is worth loosing 20% of your range.

So if you put F119s in a hornet, would it loose range too? Im not doubting the numbers, but it just seems odd. The F-22 must have significantly more fuel capacity than a hornet to have good range and speed with F119s.

I think he is wrong the F-119's are more reliable and the only way the B-1R is losing range its they designed it in a slightly smaller airframe than the current B-1's or I should say it will carry less fuel and more weapons, its one of the two but its not because of the engines. I think the current B-1 use the same engine that is in the F-15's someone correct me if I am wrong.


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