Air Force Hopes to Buy 80 to 100 Next Gen Bombers

Air Force Hopes to Buy 80 to 100 Next Gen Bombers

The Air Force will buy between 80 to 100 of its future stealth bombers that are expected to come online in the mid 2020s, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers today.

“Between 80 and 100 is the target, this program is very much focused on affordability and poised for technical success,” said Donley during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing this morning. This is a significant reduction from reports earlier this year that hinted at a 175-plane buy.

He then gave a little more insight into how the airplane will develop when he revealed that the tech used in the plane will come largely from other programs. We already knew this was likely true for the aircraft’s engines but there had been speculation as to how much of the existing technology was already developed for a future bomber versus how much had been developed for programs like the F-35 or the various stealthy UAVs that are out there.

“We plan on taking advantage of existing technologies on other programs that are mature, a streamlined management process and a strict limitation on requirements for the system going forward as ways to control cost growth and to keep it on schedule,” said Donley.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz then jumped in and reaffirmed many of the known attributes of the plane: that it will be nuclear-capable (at some point), it will be optionally manned and will work as part of the family of strike and ISR systems rather than being a “lone wolf” capable of doing almost every conceivable high-risk strike mission.

The question that now remains is; will early versions of the jet be built with the ability to deliver nuclear weapons and be flown remotely? All of this will likely depend on technology availability and cost.


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If weapons costs continue on their merry over run ways, we won’t have enough money to pay retiree benefits let along bombers for the World Police Force.

Sounds like my senior design project for my aero engineering undergrad. Looks like my generation will have an airplane to build afterall.…

So when Schwartz says it “will work as part of the family of strike and ISR systems,” does that mean this thing, despite its stealth, is going to require extensive EW support?

Looking forward to hearing more details on this program. Hopefully we do actually get these bombers in the 2020s.

Does the USAF still have plans for a more advanced, supersonic bomber further down the road? The so called “2037 bomber”?

Hey, maybe this program can use the F136 engine.

I have to say this is one project I am excited about. It seems like a fairly realistic goal and a beautiful aircraft to boot.

It will really suck if in 2019 somebody figures out a ~$200.00, moron simple way to track stealth aircraft at BVR. As much effort as we are putting into stealth technology it would really be crippling if there turns out to be some kind of obvious method of detection.

Now that I think of it could Doppler RADAR detect wind patterns or the wake/vortex of these aircraft?

Mr Donley & Gen Schwartz: Is there currently any existing, mature optionally manned technologies? Since F-35 is an abysmal failure, does it make sense to reuse failed patterns and results from F-35?? What are the estimated unit costs for the NGB?? Don’t know? Then how are you in a position to assure us the focus IS on affordability??? What does affordable mean, anyway???

If this goes the way of the F-35 the project will be canceled quickly. I don’t think the political atmosphere today will tolerate another F-35 considering how much hatred that projected has rightly earned.

haha then the dumbest thing in the world would be to mention “F-35″ in any other acquisition program. but maybe our leaders have a habit of doing the dumbest things in the world.


Hey, I recognize that airplane. It’s the B-2. Oh wait, no, we stopped building the B-2 at 20 airplanes. Isn’t it great of the USAF to come up with a whole new development program for thier coddled contractors to make more free money off of? What a great bunch of guys. Too bad they don’t look out for the US taxpayer’s interests as well. I’m sure this will be the “low cost” version of the B-2 just like the F-35 is the “low cost” version of the F-22. Wow, they must really think you taxpayers are stupid if they’re going to try the same trick on you one more time without even trying to make it look a little bit different. Of course, you’ve been so reliably stupid up to now, there’s no reason to think you won’t bend over for this one too. Make sure you never stop paying profit on development. I’d hate to see this program get cancelled just before it goes into production phase and the poor contractor be stuck without making a profit on the development work they dragged into the next century.

Operative word in the title– “hopes”.

We will not be capable of designing another airplane capable of supersonic cruise until they bring back the airplane designer. You cannot design an airplane that will cruise supersonically for any significant distance by committee. To date, there has really only been one successful supersonic cruise capable airplane, the SR-71. Even the XB-70 was not particularly successful. The wave rider lift they expected from the common intake for those 6 engines didn’t pan out at Mach 3 and clearly the canard was positioned too high on the nose.

Straw poll: in a naval-centric Pacific environment, is stealth as powerful a factor as supersonic capability.

u make good sense. i wish more people like u were in charge.

This really could be a good thing. I’m not as optimistic as I used to be but with the money running out something could really change for the best.

I kind of like the that it looks like the B-2! :) Is the B-2 design, from an engineering perspective, that bad? Seriously, I don’t know.

I agree it won’t be “low cost” and I highly doubt we will buy anywhere near 80 bombers. We will probably buy ~20 or so and at the same cost we paid for the B-2.

Considering they haven’t screwed anything up yet I’m going to wait and see.

Who do you call and talk to now about our concerns that this project may turn into a disaster? We should try to influence them now and start complaining after they screw it up. Then vote the elected officials involved out of office.

This definitely seems reminiscent of the F-35, in that a successful aircraft (F-22 for F-35, B-2 for NGB) has its run cut short because of high costs in its early life which obviously dropped as more units were ordered, then an entirely new aircraft is ordered to fill the capability gap, at a much higher overall cost than just biting the bullet and ordering a big run in the first place. Good for contractors, until the public loses its patience with the system altogether and political reality forces US abdication from world leadership. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and GE probably aren’t going to like a world where a hypothetical Jengdu-40 is the world’s finest fighter any more than we are.

That’s crap. The B-2 cost half as much per pound as the F-22. They’ll save us into the poor house if they make the new bomber the same way they are making the F-22 and F-35. Each new bomber can cost $2 billion instead of only $1 billion. Yeah, that a cost savings if you speak Pentagon.

It is Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause number 16.405–2 (–18/html/Subpart%2016_4.html). It may help to cite this when discussing with a congressman or representative of the DoD.

Buy upgraded B2s instead. Just say NO to the Air Force.

Hey we started of to build:
100 B-2s
750 F-22s
2443 F-35s (new official designation now F-$$)

We ended with 20, 186, and ?

Prediction : We’ll build less than 50 NGBs.

I doubt strongly that B-X Bomber will even get into production due to above mentioned development costs and profiteering. There considerable movement cut the budget; you can’t do that with expensive defense programs. I’m not saying they should build it, but they need gut whatever bureaucracy that keeps these defense programs (any) going through the roof. I love how they say this thing going is optional manned bomber, it sounds like their trying please everyone with it.

I was young when we were going to buy 132 B-2’s. Now I am old and ready to retire with only 20 aircraft. Don’t count your chickens just yet.

How do you plan to buy more aircraft that don’t have a production line?

I heard that the Swedes where developing some sort of multiple “node” radar to spot Russian stealth planes; but the stopped development because they didn’t think there was much risk from the Russians. Apart from being developed in order to see stealth planes, it was impossible to knock out with air strikes because the system consisted of literally hundreds of separate nodes, each capable of detecting stealth planes. I do know that the Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer radar can see targets the size of a small bird travelling at mach 2 plus, at 300 miles. Also their missiles can shoot down such a target at 30 and 80 kilometres respectively, travelling up to mach 3. Thinking about things logically, with the history of all military developments there have always been counter measures developed eventually. Stealth is extremely high tech and very clever. But someone just as clever will be working on a counter measure right now. In fact there are probably a lot of people all over the world doing so; as stealth planes are extremely expensive. As you said it would be just wonderful if we all get stealth planes then someone develops something that can see them with the same ease as ”conventional” radar. In fact going back to relatively cheaper planes is probably the dream of many governments all over the world!

Northrop actually offered to build 20 more B-2As at a discount. Yet that is in the past now.

The biggest problem with the B-2A is that it’s stealth materials are horribly maintenance intensive compared to what is being used on the F-22 and F-35. The NGB can be a better aircraft.

At 50 NGB’s, that’s still a generous estimate.

Create a new production line. Upgrade the engines, stealth, avionics.

Contractors don’t have an extra $20–30 billion laying around to do development work.

If you want to build something that’s never been built before, you have to accept the risks. An all-aspects, stealthy bomber had never been built before the B-2.

Also, blame Congress and the DoD as much as the contractors. Every time Congress cuts the buy or delays due to funding issues, the cost per aircraft shoots up.

how much the development? but if americans pay without prob, why not?

That would actually justify that programs costs, in ways that only supplying the F35 never could.

The trick to making this program work, is to lock in the research and developement to build a plane with specifications that are set in stone from the beginning. With a “live with it” approach, that doesn’t allow for the ever “changing requirements” that make up 80% of cost overruns.

The B-2 could be a better aircraft too, and for a tiny fraction of the $20 billion or so it will cost to develop a whole new airplane that’s basically a clone of the B-2. Instead they want us to bend over and take it like a man one more time.

First of all, it wouldn’t cost anywhere near $20–30 billion to develop an airplane if the government was not fronting the costs. Companies would figure out ways to reduce development costs substantially if the costs were their own for one thing. Also, there would no longer be any need to make these programs bigger than they need to be. There is no reason every new airplane that comes down the pipe needs a completely new avionics system or a completely new engine. In the past when companies were coving development costs, even things like landing gear were shared between aircraft of similar weight. These programs today ream the US taxpayer for tens of billions of dollars because they can, not because they have to. That’s military industrial complex bs, not reality.

The supporters of this 100-N.G.B.-fleet subconsciously count on having left the Second Great Recession again in the 2020s, and being back in another Reagan/Clinton-like boom (while I secretly muse whether the U.S.A. will still be around then at all) … Making megalomaniacal plans in the middle of Global Depression with what you’re going to buy in the next Golden Age isn’t counting the eggs in the hen’s a**, it’s counting the hatched chicks in the hen’s a** !

2 years with out a raise in retirement pay but then Lockheed needs the money more than we do, after all since Obama and the DemocRATS have been in office all retirees both military and social sceurity have not seen a raise but Obama and congress has

Affordable means that system fielding is pushed out past four PPBES cycles. Color it “not on my watch”…

It doesn’t take 14 years to stand up a new production line. These guys don’t WANT to buy new hardware — at least not major systems, at least not if the maintenance costs remain lower than replacement costs.

Last I heard was a rumor that a 75% scale model of the NGB was built and test flown at Tonopah. It may well still be flying as based on this, we can come up with a design that can be buit as opposed to being litigated to extinction by those nitwits in Congress too concerned about deficit spending and not too concerned about force structure. What we have (B-52, B-1B and B-2) will not fly on forever and will need to be replaced, see the 175 projected manned bomber force hinted previouisly!

Let’s build this baby and make it suceed so that we can protect all that is good in America!

I have a great idea lets sell all old B-52’s to the rag heads and use that money to pay for our new bombers…if nothing else we can use them for target practice!

I can’t believe Donley said “this program is very much focused on affordability and poised for technical success and we will use technology from mature programs like the F35”.….….….….….….…give me a break.

that won’t happen because this optionally manned concept has not been thought out yet. All the life support of manned aircraft increases manned aircraft costs. All the extra remote technology costs and creates complexity for unmanned systems. combine the two into one platform, which has never been done on such a scale, and you have unknown cost and unknown complexity. The final outcome of the NGB is already predictable. In the meantime, all we really need is a massive bomb truck with massive range, payload, and loiter. All extra bells & whistles increase cost, complexity, and risk. cripes, we’ll probably have to fly B-52s until 2100.

These politicians have their bullet points provided to them by Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman.

No, stand off weapons can be super sonic, getting within range to launch weapons is more important. Having said that though range becomes a far more important factor in regards to the Pacific.

Let’s go back to 1991. First night of the war. Some one says let’s use the B-52s and this modified 767. Both planes were available back then. Both are huge on a radar scope. P8 bomb bay is small, especially compared with the Buff. To make it cost effective for a bomb run, hang more bombs on the wings. Now both jets are slower and make an even bigger blip on the scope. So we need jammers, either on the bombers or escorts. There goes the element of surprise. After bombs-away, the jets “speed up” for all their subsonic worth. The enemy scrambles its fighters. So we need our fighters for protection. F-117s don’t dog fight.

The F-22 dog fights. The F-35 carries the same bombs as these B-52s and mod-ed 767, but… The big boys haul 80 bombs so you’d need 40 F-35s to do the same work. But at least the –35s can target and launch 80 air-to-air insults to the enemy jets. And the JSFs can punch thru Mach 1 to get out of there if needed.
The point is … old airplanes aren’t good for today’s enemy that is readily equipped with modern weapons. If you want to push the old tin into service, what casualty rate are you willing to accept? Before you answer or argue, imagine your son or daugther or grandchildren in that old tin?

I won’t be. I’m a missile man anyway…

No, not EW but work in conjunction with other acft in the strike package along with ELINT and other intelligence gatherign assets.

EW defeats the purpose of LO technology since as soon as you jam someone thy know yyou are in the area.

Are you not assuming that the picture actually depicts what the next bomber will look like? AFAIK that is not an official rendering of how the airframe will appear. Much like the pictures of the F-117 when it was just a rumor.

I would expect the airframe to take shape in 3–5 years once requirements were finalized.

your proposal doesn’t work though, because the military needs custom developed hardware. System, operational suitability, EMIC, interoperability — all these requirements are not well understood at project outset. Systems have to be tested in operational environments, government owned test facilities & ranges. The contractors can’t develop a useable item on their item — they don’t have the capability. There is nothing wrong with paying contractors for development. The breakdown is in unrealistic concepts to begin with, requirements development & discipline, and professional systems engineering & program management. we keep repeating the same mistakes it boggles the mind.

Actually the XB-70 did not fail, but emerging AA defenses made speed and altitude less of a safe haven. The B-70 was conceived as a high altitude penetrating acft. SAMs that reach FL100 at Mach 4+ and 100 miles slant range rendered the design moot.

The cruise missile concept you mention was explored in the 70s using 747s. Any civilian airframe adapted to fill the mission will, in all likelyhood, only be capable of filling part of it and be a very slow large target to boot. They would have to penetrate air defenses in order to use JDAMs.

The FB-22 would be a good replacement for the F-15E in the tacair strike role, but it was not ever to be a long-range strike platform, legs too short. If our prupose is to have an asset that can strike from CONUS, the a short-medium range acft is not the answer.

The B-1 is what preceeded the B-2. B-2 development (as the ATB) started in the mid 70s. Jack Northrop was even shown a model of the acft in 1978.

Hate to be difficult, but if you think about it, both are needed. For more than one reason.

Nice homily on behalf of motherhood and apple pie. I don’t have any issues with paying contractors their fee during SDD (or even earlier, for that matter. But if you do that, make sure the metal benders do not cut corners. Their business model is based on production. Without production runs, they are no better than a three or four letter services firm. In fact, they are worse because you are paying to prop up unused plant. I would think that point obvious to a brilliant number cruncher such as yourself.

i can beat f 117 at 0800H.….

thanks i knew it////

Are we eventually going to have an Air Force with 1 of each plane. Are we going to try to have such sophisticated planes that we think we can get by with ridiculously low numbers. The Army and Navy are getting smaller. Soon we’ll have about six planes, 10 Ships, and twenty soldiers. We’re budgeting ourselves out of a defense.

oh my STemplar, please don’t shower any more of your fake “righteous indignation” on us, we won’t be able to withstand the weight of your wisdom (and your name calling).

It’s a math game. The development cost is a sunk cost. You spread the development cost over the number of systems produced. If you “overestimate” the number of systems you will produce you can show congress a much lower cost then what it will really cost. Once Congress pays for the development then you do the “bait and switch” and the GAO finds out the “real” cost. By then it’s too late, the Program Manager is retired and sitting on the beach laughing at the stupid taxpayer.

You think one of the defense contractors will break from the herd and do something new? Good luck with that.

Can you say “BOEING”??

It has been done before,hasn’tit?
I am not going to become cynical until facts, not opinion and supposition, tell me it is warranted.

Who says we need a new BOMBER? Where is the threat? Where is the money? Show me the MONEY, not a debt for out year generations.

Thanks for the info!

Very cool stuff!

The Cylons are coming! :)

Great point about parts and systems. A new bomber with the B-2 engine, landing gear etc. (anything that can be recycled) but with a significantly better maintenance and purchase cost would be an ideal solution given the times we find ourselves in.

Just focus on the parts that are draw backs to the B-2 now (Mostly the RADAR absorbent skin?) and leave the other things open to be changed down the road. That’s pretty much what has happened with the B-52’s right?

oh…I thought that was the “final” design.

50! Wow you are an optimist! Seems like historically they usually take about 1/5th to 1/4th of what is originally planned. If they are talking about 80 now then we should see 16–20 at most.

Once the B-52’s are gone, if we do end up at 16 then unless we are going to war against antarctica we will be pretty badly disadvantaged. Just because an aircraft is 1000% more effective then what you previously had doesn’t mean you can have 1000% less of them.


While stop at just one aircraft? Technology is getting better all the time!

This new bomber is so sophisticated it doesn’t even need bombs or numbers to get the job done! Just imagine… no fuel cost, no maintenance, no hangers, no more spare parts! Hell, it is so stealthy you can’t see it on the ground and it doesn’t even need pilots!!

Oops I meant “why” not “While”

But also stealth will be improved. What if you have a bomber with the radar signature as small as one tenth that of a mosquito? http://​www​.popsci​.com/​n​o​d​e​/​3​0​794


Plan for the future. Without this we won’t have any bombers left by 2040 or so.

If thats what they will look like, mabe we oughtta make some passenger jets that look like this, this thing look pretty cool. I mean, give it a snazzy paint job with some nose art and such. Who knows? mabe more people will start to fly on em again.

Were talkin bombers here mike, bombers.…big new bombers in mid 2020, not fighters, just some of the existing tech.

Me too.…..give me a picture of one and I’ll beat the crap out of it.

Heres a straw poll for ya 95% to 5%.….The Navy Sucks!!!!!! This is about Air Force bombers.

Too bad we don’t buy our jets by the pound.

Boo hoo, call it like I see it. We aren’t 14 trillion in debt because the Rs or Ds have done anything smart financially in the last 10 years. They’ve both had rotating control of Congress and the White House. They’re both responsible, and the Pea Tardy is nothing but a bunch of short sighted opportunistic populists.

You are totally correct. However, we need an inexpensive machine. The AF budget has always started an aquisition with large numbers of aircraft. Way back they wanted many more B-58’s than the 116 or so that were finally built. Internal conflicts between commanders and the politicos always cut down the numbers.
Unfortunately the B-58 was mothballed and then offered up during the treaties with the Soviets as a system to reduce the numbers. Off they went to the chopping block. All that money was cut to pieces!
However, thank goodness they were never needed.

The problem is that those things you describe aren’t on a Powerpoint chart with a texture-mapped 3D rendering of an “artist’s concept”, so people won’t pay any attention to them.

Our government can’t even make a comprimise to keep our gov running til Sept 30, 2011. How the HELL can we afford new bombers and shutdown the government???? think about it you so called college boys! Too much education will get you bankrupt!

Thank you “General” (I am Worthless” Merrill Anthony “Tony”) McPeak and of course Admiral “We must have 1000 additional 19knt Afterburning Ships, so to stop the madness I am now the Chairman of the JCS” Mullins, and of course the Prime “Give me additional Funds at 15% Profit after cost” Integrators for totally SCREWING Up the Air Force and Navy with your “Let put everything into Stealth”!!! Your Legacy Continues!!!!! Hope we can Bomb Grass Huts with this.… I know a B-52H with 108 each, MK-82’s can take out those targets in the Desert with no Problem. We can even launch Cruise Missles from XXX Miles as well. However, Wall Street needs more money!!!!! Let Build a New Bomber!!!!

Chopping Block, shopping list: JSF, F-22, Next Gen Bomber. These three platforms alone would pay off the National Debit in Savings. This is not hard.

BTW: The F-117 was retired in 2008. They are all in the Bone Yard at Davis-Monthan AFB where, JSF, F-22 and B-2 needs to reside. Steath is DEAD. Look up the S-400

Hey JSFMIKE… Your JSF is Worthless. JSF and Stealth is Dead. Your Platform can be seen. It is worthless… Once it runs out of a few missiles without Plyons and NO GUN then WHAT???

Go back to posting Youtube comments with the rest of the clueless. Stealth isn’t “dead”, far from it.


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