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Stitch
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US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:50 am



Quote:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested on Tuesday that the Pentagon's ambitious goal of fielding a new long-range bomber by 2018 may slip after all, given the current world economic crisis...

Boeing and Lockheed Martin teamed up last year to compete for the bomber contract, vying against Northrop Grumman, which built the B-2.

Defense analysts say the project to build a subsonic, manned bomber with a range of about 2,000 miles, could be worth about $10 billion or more to U.S. defense contractors.

I think the best plan for the US economy right now is to award the bomber contract to Northrop Grumman and then award the KC-X contract to Boeing.

Northrop Grumman will likely employ more Americans building this bomber then they will do final assembly on the KC-30A and the KC-X program will keep the 767 line employed for decades.

With talks of a larger F-22 buy and production of the F-35 soon to start, Lockheed Martin will have plenty of work to go around, as well.

It's a win-win for the US defense companies and US defense workers exactly like the EU doing what it takes to keep the A400M program alive to take care of their defense industry and workers, as well.  thumbsup 

Link to Reuters Article.
 
MCIGuy
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:50 am

 checkmark 
Very well said, spread the wealth around, we already know they're all capable on their respective projects. I still have an issue with calling this thing a "strategic bomber". It almost sounds like they're more looking for a replacement of the F-117, not a strategic platform. I guess it's "strategic" in that it took out high value targets, but when I think "strategic" I think long range and "nuclear".
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kc135topboom
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:10 am



Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 1):
It almost sounds like they're more looking for a replacement of the F-117, not a strategic platform.

I agree. This is a F-117A/F-15E replacement, not a B-52/B-1 replacement. The range of only 2,000 nm already tells us that. If we wanted a new strategic bomber, all we really need to do is opt for the B-2B platform, in an updated version, but that is far from what this program calls for.

Quoting Stitch (Thread starter):
I think the best plan for the US economy right now is to award the bomber contract to Northrop Grumman and then award the KC-X contract to Boeing.

Northrop Grumman will likely employ more Americans building this bomber then they will do final assembly on the KC-30A and the KC-X program will keep the 767 line employed for decades.

With talks of a larger F-22 buy and production of the F-35 soon to start, Lockheed Martin will have plenty of work to go around, as well.

It's a win-win for the US defense companies and US defense workers exactly like the EU doing what it takes to keep the A400M program alive to take care of their defense industry and workers, as well.

There may be some valididity in that suggestion. The only questions I would have would be how NG would design, build, and support this new bomber? The cost would also need to be worked out, too. We already know what the F-22A, F-35A/B/C, and KC-767AT costs, more or less. But what will an FB-X fly away unit cost, as well as what are the developement costs going to be?

Right now, the country and Congress are at or very near the "sticker shock" of new weapons systems. The KC-767AT or KC-30A costs around $100M-$140M each, the F-22A is around $85M-$90M each, the C-17A/ER is running about $150M each, the DDG-1000 (Zumwalt class DDG) is over $5B per warship, and CVN-X (Ford class CVN) is now projected at $10B-$12B each. If the FB-X, or whatever we will eventually call it, comes in at $350M+ per airplane, I doubt we will buy enough to meet our needs.
 
bennett123
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:59 am

Stitch

"KC-X program will keep the 767 line employed for decades"

What production level do you envisage?

To build even 500 in a decade would be only 4 a month, spread over multiple decades, a correspondingly lower figure.

Given that the current plan was for 179 airframes, would it be viable to extend production for decades.

I suspect that you may be assuming additional Civil production, However, AFAIK the only civil orders at present are due to delays with the B787, (a situation which is unlikely to continue for long).
 
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Stitch
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:05 pm



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 3):
What production level do you envisage?

Given that the current plan was for 179 airframes, would it be viable to extend production for decades.

I fully expect whomever wins the KC-X contract will provide the sole USAF tanker going forward, replacing the entire KC-135 and KC-10 fleet over time, though likely not on a 1:1 basis.

Therefore, while the initial tranche would be 179 planes, I believe the final order will be two to maybe three times that.

I also think that whomever wins the KC-X contract will also become the platform to replace other systems currently built on the 707 airframe, including the E-3, E-6, E-8, EC-135 and RC-135 families. That could be worth another 50-100 frames.
 
Lumberton
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:41 pm



Quoting Stitch (Thread starter):
Northrop Grumman will likely employ more Americans building this bomber then they will do final assembly on the KC-30A and the KC-X program will keep the 767 line employed for decades.

I agree. Don't forget that N-G gets builds the carriers for the USN and some of the subs.

If Northrop-Grumman is so eager to compete for the tanker contract with their airbus entrant, how would they feel if they had competition from Europe on the nuke carriers? I'm sure General Dynamics or Lockheed would be willing to act as the "front man" on a bid.
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gsosbee
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:52 pm



Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):

Stitch is close to what will happen, only it will be Boeing unless LM decides to do something on its own or Airbus moves all production to Mobile.

May not be the correct way to treat your allies or to provide your military with the best option available, but in this economic climate it is the only outcome that will survive.
 
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Stitch
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:11 pm



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 5):
If Northrop-Grumman is so eager to compete for the tanker contract with their airbus entrant, how would they feel if they had competition from Europe on the nuke carriers? I'm sure General Dynamics or Lockheed would be willing to act as the "front man" on a bid.

Let me know when the French and the British build a full-size carrier, and we'll talk.  Smile

Seriously, Charles de Gaulle (R 91) is less then half the displacement of a Nimitz or Ford class carrier and the Queen Elizabeth class is almost half the displacement.
 
Lumberton
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:18 pm



Quoting Stitch (Reply 7):
Seriously, Charles de Gaulle (R 91) is less then half the displacement of a Nimitz or Ford class carrier and the Queen Elizabeth class is almost half the displacement.

Do you remember the fight over the "Gary Hart" carrier, back in the '70s (or was it the '80s?). The debate ranged over what was really required in a carrier, something the size of 4 foot ball fields, or something smaller. Desperate times often call for desperate measures. Didn't Mr. Gates say something yesterday about the "money spigot"?

But I made the comparison half in jest. Of course, it would be beyond stupid to even consider opening up the carrier bids. The infrastructure must be preserved. I've argued the same applies in the tanker situation.

As for the bomber, has the USAF made the case they really need it? Manned or unmanned?
"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
Stratofortress
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:23 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
the F-22A is around $85M-$90M each

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the cost of F-22 is closer to $170M... And over $300 if you break it into cost per unit.

http://www.defense-aerospace.com/dae...uniques/FighterCostFinalJuly06.pdf
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bennett123
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:23 pm

Gsosbee

Perhaps your right.

I wonder if our politicians will feel the same way when the US next wants help.
 
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:55 pm



Quoting Gsosbee (Reply 6):
May not be the correct way to treat your allies or to provide your military with the best option available, but in this economic climate it is the only outcome that will survive.

What is best for each military is different and subjective. We buy plenty enough overseas for our military so if our "allies" don't like it too bad.

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 10):
I wonder if our politicians will feel the same way when the US next wants help

Wow! I never realized it until now. We could spend a few billion dollars more on military products made in the UK and in return Her Majesty will send a few more troops over to help the colonials. What a brilliant idea! Spend a few bucks so we don't have to send so many of our troops into battle. I am sure that blood for money is a trade we would make any day. I'm going to call my Senators and Congressman to tell them that. All along I thought allies do battle together because they have common interests and a common foe. Silly me.
 
MCIGuy
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:58 pm

Quoting Stratofortress (Reply 9):
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the cost of F-22 is closer to $170M... And over $300 if you break it into cost per unit.

In 2008 each Raptor cost $137M each. Any further buy by the USAF can only drive the price lower. The "$300M" figure is only if you factor in R&D costs on 183 frames, but those are sunk costs that can not be recovered if the Raptor line closed tomorrow, so they're irrelevant. What is relevant is that the more that are built, the cheaper each one will be.

[Edited 2009-01-28 12:59:44]
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Stitch
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:15 pm



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 8):
As for the bomber, has the USAF made the case they really need it? Manned or unmanned?

Well it would be manned, I know that much.

It's sounding kind of like a mid-point model between the FB-111 and the B-1B. If I had to guess, it would be something like "A-17" or it could be drawing off the canceled A/FX program.

Boeing is pushing UCAVs hard, but that is because they are now effectively out of the manned fighter business (the F-35 is expected to be the last manned fighter design put into service).
 
Lumberton
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:33 pm

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 10):
I wonder if our politicians will feel the same way when the US next wants help.

Last I looked, BAE has two plants over here churning out vehicles for the U.S. Army & Marine Corps. Didn't RR buy Allison? AFAIK they still use those engines on C-130s and E-2s. Isn't Westland involved in the contract for the new Marine One? Then there is a significant UK participation in the F-35 program.

These examples came to mind in 10 seconds.

[Edited 2009-01-28 13:35:05]
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MCIGuy
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:46 pm



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):

The Harrier is a British design too. Those AT-4 rockets that our ground-pounders use? They're made by Saab, just to name a couple more.

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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:03 pm



Quoting Stitch (Thread starter):
US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

I have to say it, the first thing I thought when I saw this thread title was:

"And in other news, the sky is blue and grass is green!"

Tugg
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Stratofortress
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:52 am



Quoting Stitch (Reply 13):
F-35 is expected to be the last manned fighter design put into service

Keep in mind that Navy is not impressed with F-35, and would love to get its own platform with two engines. Advanced Navy Strike could very well be manned.


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Stitch
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:42 pm



Quoting Stratofortress (Reply 17):
Keep in mind that Navy is not impressed with F-35, and would love to get its own platform with two engines. Advanced Navy Strike could very well be manned.

Well they were not impress with the TFX and were able to get the F-14 through, but there is no "Big Bad" like the Soviet Bear casting a shadow that they can use to try and force another new program in.
 
ebj1248650
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:52 pm



Quoting Stitch (Reply 18):
Keep in mind that Navy is not impressed with F-35, and would love to get its own platform with two engines. Advanced Navy Strike could very well be manned.

What is it about the airplane they're not impressed with?
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kc135topboom
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:47 am



Quoting Stratofortress (Reply 9):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
the F-22A is around $85M-$90M each

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the cost of F-22 is closer to $170M... And over $300 if you break it into cost per unit.



Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 12):
In 2008 each Raptor cost $137M each. Any further buy by the USAF can only drive the price lower. The "$300M" figure is only if you factor in R&D costs on 183 frames, but those are sunk costs that can not be recovered if the Raptor line closed tomorrow, so they're irrelevant. What is relevant is that the more that are built, the cheaper each one will be.

Correct, the cost of each airframe is coming down. In FY 2005 the costs per unit was about $142M each.

http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=199

Quoting Stratofortress (Reply 17):
Keep in mind that Navy is not impressed with F-35, and would love to get its own platform with two engines. Advanced Navy Strike could very well be manned.

The USN will have a hard time finding funding for a new fighter.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 18):
Well they were not impress with the TFX and were able to get the F-14 through, but there is no "Big Bad" like the Soviet Bear casting a shadow that they can use to try and force another new program in.

Putan is funding the old Soviet military forces, again. The Tu-95s are flying a lot again, as is almost ever other Russian AF airplane.
 
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Stitch
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:48 am



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 20):
Putan is funding the old Soviet military forces, again. The Tu-95s are flying a lot again, as is almost ever other Russian AF airplane.

A toothless bear can only roar.  Wink
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:15 am



Quoting Stitch (Reply 21):
A toothless bear can only roar.

 rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl 
 
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par13del
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:12 pm



Quoting MCIGuy (Reply 1):
It almost sounds like they're more looking for a replacement of the F-117, not a strategic platform.

I thought the F-117's were retired early because the F-22 could do the same job and was a better platform, if that was /is the case why spend money building a replacement, so far I have not heard the Air Force say they need more Raptors to take up the additional slack from the loss of the F-117.
An F-117 was shot down in combat, the Air Force played it off as bad operational management, was there something more to that than was made public resulting in the early retirement?
The B-52 has been flying along for decades, the B-1 had some many design and mission changes only its size said it was a bomber, what I find hard to believe that is that to replace a bomber from the late 50's has to be such a complicated process. Its not a tactical a/c, it need ecm protection yes, must it be supersonic, must it carry air to air missiles, to me its a bobm truck, the most expensive systems on the a/c should be its electronics. I guess OEM's look at projects like thess as major financial commitments which must be spread over decades to maintain the health of the company, bummer.
 
MCIGuy
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RE: US Strategic Bomber Replacement Timetable May Slip

Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:29 pm



Quoting Par13del (Reply 23):
An F-117 was shot down in combat, the Air Force played it off as bad operational management, was there something more to that than was made public resulting in the early retirement?

I doubt it, they were using a low frequency radar which shows every little thing in the sky and some things not in the sky. They just happened to pick the right return and got a lucky shot, very difficult to duplicate.
I agree about the F-22 replacing the 117. The reason I said Nighthawk replacement is because that's what the specs make it sound like. The RFP sounded like a stealth, medium-range strike platform. I mean, if that's what they want then it sounds doable to me. Todays stealth tech is leaps ahead of where it was in the Nighthawk's day and a lot cheaper too. Thrust vectoring is another technology that should get cheaper. I think they could build it relatively cheaply. I'm envisioning a diamond shape clipped at the tail with no tail surfaces at all.  Smile
My issue is with calling it a "strategic" platform when it obviously won't have the traditional capabilities we've come to expect in a strategic bomber.
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