AFA: New bomber program ‘underway’

AFA: New bomber program ‘underway’

ORLANDO — The Air Force has kicked off its effort to field a new long range bomber in the 2020s, service officials revealed Friday.

“There’s a competition,” said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley during a Feb. 24 press conference at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference here. “The program is underway, the requirements, the cost parameters have been set by the Secretary of Defense and we’re executing in that direction … we’ve identified the target delivery for the mid ‘20s.”

As you know, the air service plans on buying 80 to 100 of the new bombers that are meant to be developed quickly by using existing technologies and relying on other members of the “family” of long range strike systems to provide electronic warfare (EW) and ISR during strike missions.

Here’s what Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz said about how the service is going to ensure the new bomber doesn’t suffer delays and cost overruns that have afflicted the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“We’re not trying to jam all of these advanced capabilities,” — such as ISR, EW and communications support — into the new airplane, said the secretary.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates “set the requirements for the program, the parameters that he wanted us to use and he directed that we conduct this in a streamlined fashion through the rapid capabilities office,” said Donley. “We’re putting in place, we think, the foundations that will keep the program under control. I’m not suggesting that it’s not going to be a challenge; this is complex work. But we think we’re doing the right things up front to set the conditions for success.”

Schwartz added that, “among those conditions is disciplined requirements. Although some have suggested that supersonic dash might be a requirement for such a platform, you won’t hear that from us.”




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Supersonic dash? What a joke! That way it could have thin wings that don’t carry any fuel and keep the stealth coatings that make it unreliable. Make it a Mach 3+ bomber that goes in and comes out supersonic and doesn’t need the coatings/edge treatments, or make it subsonic. More ineptness from the top, as usual.

They will continue to provide contractors with a profit incentive to drag out the program and jack up the costs, but the program won’t take the usual 2 to 3 decades because it won’t have state of the art radios. Right. Does the USAF make these Generals take a 6 week course at a shady used car lot before they get their stars?

It sounds like the Air Force has learned the lessons of JSF, and is being entirely practical. I fully support their efforts on the bomber.

Contractors will make less profit on a drawn out development program that eventually becomes a scaled back (qtys) procurement program than they would on a realistic, well-conceived, executable program. Contractors want to finish development fast, get through procurement, and then generate steady business in O&M support. It’s the government that is the stumbling block in developing systems in adequate time. Our asinine senior leadership is drowning in the mistakes of their predecessors, and then instead of correcting course they add fuel to the fire. A 2020s (?) delivery date is an insult to the American taxpayer & the warfighter. It is set so far into the future that any “cost parameters” set by the SecDef today will be overcome by a tsunami of unfolding events. If USAF generals really wanted to, they could develop and start delivering much needed strategic bombers to replace our antiquated systems (B-1 & B-52 especially) & increase our national security much earlier. The delay to start development in earnest is probably due to the leadership’s attention on the pet project of the moment that the General’s reputations & short term concerns are focused on: F-35.

Of course R&D into bomber tech is ok. But this plan doesn’t take more cuts and sequestration into account and that’s just reckless behavior by USAF Generals. I doubt the funds to make a new bomber by early 2020 will have the money to survive the 20 teens.

Contractors make $1.10 on every $1.00 they spend on development. It is not hard to make money with a contract like that. And if the target is to have the bomber in the 2020’s, you’ll be lucky to live long enough to see anything produced, not that the goal of the contractors is to build an actual airplane. Why build an airplane when you can make plenty of free money designing one?

Combination of B2 and X-44 Manta? Would that equal a B3? Or X-44 Manta on a bigger scale?

Believe what they DO, not what they SAY. The language in all of these development programs sounds the same, e.g. “streamlined,” “rapid,” “affordable.” That’s just marketing.

I should HOPE that they learned the lessons of JSF. That plane would be a scandal if it the public paid any attention to defense procurement.

Just bring back the B70…built with todays materials and electronics, nothing would catch it.

Yeah, except maybe one of those pesky 400km ranged, Mach 5 S-400 missiles.

The day of the half-million pound flying radar reflector and its 180,000 lb /thrust infrared blowtorch has come and gone…

There is a prototype bomber already produced at 75% of ultimate size and at Tonopah. Rumored contractor is Northrup Grumman

We can’t bring back the B-70 because we don’t have any committees capable of designing a new one. It’s funny how even that idiot Schwartz still recognizes speed is life — as long as it costs a lot. The SR-71 flew over the dark heart of the Soviet Union without being shot down, and we know much more about stealth now than was known when it was designed. God forbid they should hire an actual airplane designer to design a Mach 3+ vehicle now. They’d never go along with dragging out development for 3 decades.

AF Sec Donley says that there will be “a competition”, for the new bomber, and as for its kinematic performance:

“Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, also at the press conference, said the Air Force would exercise keen “discipline” in establishing requirements. “Although some have suggested that supersonic dash may be a requirement for such a platform, you won’t hear that from us,” he asserted.“

If its supersonic dash could be a supercruise (without the massive IR signature of afterburners),
that could be considerably useful.

One of NG’s current toys, as E.D. suggests, is black money well spent.
But currently it’s better suited as a good follow-on to the F-15E/F-111 in the long range heavy tactical role moreso than as a strategic bomber. Unfortunately, that low observable strike capability steps on too many F-35 supporters’ feet (it just won’t ever fly off anything floating, unless Sea Base succeeds).

Mostly “supersonic dash” will be useful to the contractors who will have a hard enough time explaining why this airplane will cost many times more and take decades longer to design than the B-2 did. Hell, the F-22 cost twice as much to design, took twice as long to get operational, and cost twice per pound what the B-2 cost, and the B-2 program was a fiasco, as several others have noted. It was a demonstration of Northrop’s total inability to perform as an aircraft integrator. Had Boeing not stepped in to perform the task, the B-2 would have died on the drawing boards. Now double that incompetence and you have the F-22 program. F-35 is worse yet. Of course the most significant change between the B-2 and the later programs is Northrop only made $1.00 for every dollar spent on development and Lockheed makes $1.10 for every dollar they spend on F-22 and F-35.

The single biggest shortfall I see right now is lack of clear guidance on what the request for proposal will be. From an engineering background, it is pretty easy to get all-minus-one requirements met. Of course it is unlikely that we (public) or even the contractors will get clear guidance on what the specifics are supposed to
Especially with vague proposals like “target delivery for the mid ‘20s”.
Is this their goal that they will hold the producers to?
Delivery of what type of airframe? Prototype? Testing? Operational?
Delivery of how many in the mid 20′?
Where are they going to be based? How many crews will be required?
What is the unrefueled range?
Maximum gross takeoff & landing weight?
Crew size?

Get specific, all this is just boilerplate.
What I (and every other taxpayer) wants to see is specifics.
Flyaway costs: $550 million per aircraft with a purchase of 100 aircraft (10 squadrons) ($55 billion)
– 2 squadrons for training, 20 aircraft
– assume 80% mission effectiveness, 20 aircraft are going to be in maintenance
So we have 60 aircraft (6 squadrons) that are ready for combat at any one time. If the deployment ratio is 3-to-1 (3 time units home for every 1 deployed), and a deployment of 4 months with 1 squadron (10 aircraft) deployed at a time consume 4 of the other squadrons. 2 squadrons excess.

Obviously these are rough estimates, but this is the kind of information that should be hammered down ahead of time, also, these numbers are based off AMC C-17 deployment ratios. Can anyone shed light on fighter squadron deployment ratios?

Getting specific is the only way to satisfy engineers. Tactics don’t win wars, logistics do.

Yes, but they usually make $2+ on every $1 they spend when in production and because they’re dealing with an even greater sum of money coming in they can make many times more per year on top of it. No company I’ve ever worked for wants to be trapped in development hell, its the most involved and resource intensive part.

TU-160 laughs at you, dude!

but the point is you dont see!!

This is long range bomber [html ]Ту-160[html].
But! THIS [img ][/img] is not long range bomber!
Build something that can fly like long range bomber! :)

This is GREAT long range bomber project! http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​N​o​r​t​h​_​A​m​e​r​i​c​a​n​_​X​B​-70

Build something like this!

I don’t think thereis any reason thatwe cannot build a truck type (B-52) bomber with supersonic cruise capability and stealth. It does not need to be Mach 3, even Mach 1.5 would be good. The purpose of the speed should notbe survival because that is what the stealth is there for. The speed is necessary when you have a target that will not be there in several hours.

Uh, maybe you should take a statistics class, or even just a remedial math class, because percentages don’t work that way. If a contractor negotiates a 10% fee on a contract, it is across development, test, and production. They make less on production because of the higher risk. Also, production requires a manufacturer, even if all they do is assembly, to invest a significant amount of money in tooling. They hate to invest. Once a line is up and running and the risks are reduced, then defense contractors will lobby to continue production. Otherwise they shun it.

There are a lot of compromises you make to go supersonic. Mainly, everything has to get thinner and stiffer. If you had to push a B-52 supersonic you could, but not only would it drink fuel very quickly, it would also shake itself apart. That’s why the SR-71 is so long and thin and made from titanium which is twice as stiff as aluminum. The B-70 was made from stainless steel (3x stiffer than alum), and is very long and thin. Edge treatments and coatings can survive the heat of supersonic travel up to about Mach 2, but not much more than that. If you build an airplane that goes Mach 3+ it is more survivable simply because of its speed. It is also more reliable because the unreliable edges and coatings will not survive the heat so they’re out of the picture. We have plenty of technology that should make a Mach 3+ bomber easier to build today than it was in the ‘60s. What we don’t have is any airplane designers that know what they are doing well enough to lay out such an airplane that could travel long distances at Mach 3+.

that’s not how contracts work. first off, test is part of development, production is a different phase usally done under a different contract. development takes place over multiple years, with options being awarded piecemeal. Jeff is right, no contractor wants to get stuck in development h*ll, which is where the govt usually wallows in, because of the spending bow wave and shuffling off of problems in the future. factor in the government can’t manage the programs through the defense acquisition process, and can’t keep oversight authorities or Congress happy, and you have the root causes of the dysfunctional acquisition process. I’m not saying contractors are angels, and yes there is a a lot that is wrong and unethical, but bottom line, the government is usually at fault for failed developments. and if the contractor failed, then shame on the government for selecting them in the first place and keeping on sinking money into losing battles and not awarding the contract to a smarter contractor. the government’s concepts are often foolishly risky to begin with, almost guaranteed to fail regardless of what the contractor does.

That’s BS! You’re demonstratably wrong. How many program have to end with no weapons being produced before you figure out what the scam is? What is the number the GAO came up with, 41, I believe. I’m not saying the contractors are “at fault”. The standard DoD contract gives them a profit incentive to do design work forever and never produce an airplane. Hell, Boeing milked the C-130 AMP program for a decade and never produced anything. They made $1.10 on every dollar they spent. They made nearly $1 billion that way. Are you saying that’s chump change? It’s not worth their while? That’s crap!

Sorry, it wasn’t 47 programs, it was $46 billion worth of programs ended in nothing being produced: http://​defensetech​.org/​2​0​1​1​/​0​7​/​1​9​/​4​6​-​b​i​l​l​i​o​n​-​w​ort

nothing but russian C500 ;)

the reason there is cost plus contracting is because there is inherent uncertainty ergo risk in the development work the government specifies (snicker) for the contractor to do. cost plus contracting is not a scam. people pay contractors in cost plus arrangements for work on their house and yard all the time. the problem is the concepts that the senior government leadership, especially uniformed military, are fatally flawed so contractors are often doomed to failure from the start. I’ve seen you post many times and i agree with you to some extent that it would be great if the DoD were required to buy non-developmental items on fixed price contracts, but as long as DoD’s strategy is to intentionally pursue “dominating weapons for the wars in the decades of tomorrow” then this won’t change. Your Boeing example does certainly sound suspicious. Profit/fee shouldn’t be more than 10% or so on government contracts, but there are many valid, legal overhead costs in burdened labor rates.

Right, comrade. The only way we can get cutting edge weapons is if the government pays for their development.

Wake the hell up. In a capitalist society no one pays you for development. You risk your own money to develop a product and if you know what you’re doing, people will buy it at a profitable price. Typically the profit margin is much higher than 10%. That is the way the US government bought the weapons that won the Cold War. Now, all of the sudden, all of the lessons we’ve learned about how to procure weapons are those we learned from countries we defeated.

Given that you are such a genius, I’ll be willing to design you a kitchen and you can pay me $1.10 for every dollar I spend doing it. After all, “geniuses” like you should be parted with their money.

you are the one that needs to wake up. equipping defense forces is a wee bit more complicated than buying stuff from Amazon and it arrives at your door and voila you are ready to perform missions. i could try to reason with you some more that the government has many valid testing requirements in complicated environments, such as live fire and interoperability, but that probably won’t work either.
“In a capitalist society no one pays you for development.” this ‘all or nothing’ statement is just flat out wrong. When Donal Trump pays an architect to design & plan his buildings, that is development. He pays many people for their valuable services by the hour, on projects where the final costs are uncertain at the beginning of the project. a master kitchen designer might just be worth a premium price for their services.
let me know when you are ready for an adult conversation and do not have to resort to belittling people to prove your point.

Right, comrade, capitalism could not possibly work when buying something so complex as weapons. It works great for the small, handheld computers that we now call cell phones — a product the military in all of their great socialist wisdom cannot even come near developing — but not for really complex things like guns or bullets. By the way, what government bureaucracy came up with the “requirements” for the I-phone? Which bureaucracy funded its design? Socialist leach!

I’m sure you’ve thought through the impacts to network throughput and security if we were to buy iphones for every soldier, sailor, airmen, and marine and let them download streamloading video to get the full benefit of a COTS enabled force. oh that’s right you haven’t because you don’t have a clue about system engineering. COTS / NDIs have their place, and a lot of $ is wasted on poor development, but you actually should think through impacts and a lot of custom engineering is required for integration into an enterprise’s architecture. BTW before you levy the “socialist leach” smear again, enterprise architecture is not unique to the military — industry is implementing better system engineering practice into their enterprise’s as well.

Well there you go, the only possible way to maintain data security is through massive socialism. Why didn’t I think of that? Damn capitalism, I was blinded to the true way! You have re-educated me, comrade. I am one of you now.

lol swing and a miss but ok. i’m going to call you mr poopy pants ok? hope I can find someone a little bit… cooler to chat with here. adios — mr PP

There is also a point at which there is no need for a (high) supersonic heavy bomber. (I haven’t seen any info on what the proposed payload for the new bomber will be, though I would expect it to be in the 100-150k lb class internal). Supercruise (while more efficient than afterburners) is still not as efficient as high-bypass turbofan engines, and as the military keeps looking for places to cut costs, fuel is a big BIG target.

If we (or anyone else) did NEED a Mach 3 capable bomber, someone would probably have it already.

When you get paid $1.10 for every $1.00 you spend designing an airplane it makes sense to hire managers who are morons. After all, the more problems the design process has, the longer it takes, the more money the contractor makes. I’m not sure how that same logic applies to industry schills, though. Maybe they get so used to that trick working, they don’t have any others.

How much do they get paid for every $ they spend again? I guess in your mind if you keep repeating your generalizations that suffices as an adequate sample size to confirm the population mean.

Sure, if we needed any new weapons, we’d have them already, so clearly it’s time to stop buying new weapons. I can’t wait to see how big this nifty new bomber will be. A B-2 will hold 40,000 lbs of bombs internally, so you figure this one will be 3 to 4 times bigger? Sure, why not. Of course, if we needed one that big, we’d probably have it already.

And your B1-B Lancer?

I am obviously outclassed in a conversation such as this but if I may inject a little “common sense”. Mid 20’s delivery.??? Heck who knows, by then a laser system may be reality and NO bomber could do long range. Seems to me a missile system would be more advantageous, both offensive and defensive. In the mid twenties a manned bomber will be hard pressed to survive unless it’s orbital.

Yes this could be a great concept and I hope it is, but I worry that by the time it is delivered it will be obsolete, I hope I am wrong. In the mean time we need something that could be delivered quickly and fill the gap until then, that would be the B1-R. The B-52 is a good old workhorse that is good at bombing the Taliban, but if it comes up against any modern air force, it is a big, slow, easy target. The B-2 is only safe at night and as long as it’s Stealth isn’t compromised, but it is a slow, big target as well. The B-1R can also be used in other ways as well and it can haul @$$.

its smart to use existing technologies and if they can keep the cost down with no delays it will be a winner.…

We do have it already, the B-1B can carry 133k lbs of bombs (http://​www​.fas​.org/​n​u​k​e​/​g​u​i​d​e​/​u​s​a​/​b​o​m​b​e​r​/​b​1​b​-​f​a​c​t​b​o​o​k​.​pdf). The B-52 can carry 70K (http://​www​.globalsecurity​.org/​w​m​d​/​s​y​s​t​e​m​s​/​b​-​5​2​-​s​p​e​c​s​.​htm http://​www​.fas​.org/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​s​/​s​s​p​/​m​a​n​/​u​s​w​p​n​s​/​a​i​r​/bo… , and the B-2 can carry 40K (http://​www​.fas​.org/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​s​/​s​s​p​/​m​a​n​/​u​s​w​p​n​s​/​a​i​r​/​b​o​m​b​e​r​s​/​b​2​.​h​tml http://​www​.globalsecurity​.org/​w​m​d​/​s​y​s​t​e​m​s​/​b​-​2​-​spe.…
So yes, I feel validated in thinking it will carry between 100-150K pounds of bombs internally.
Bomb weight 3x that of a B-2, not necessarily 3–4 times bigger an aircraft.

IMHO, the B-1R (as awesome as it sounds) probably won’t happen. They have been trying to re-engine the B-52 for decades without any progress (save from going to the new JT3Ds). While the B-1R is an engineer’s dream (and nightmare, think of redoing all the lines of code for the F119s), the limiting factor is not the engines, it is the aircraft structure. There comes a point at which you just have to rebuild a main spar, bulkhead, or other structure (or you have to redefine what “structural failure” means). Another option is they may just take the wings from aircraft with fewer hours (Boneyard) and put them on airframes with updated avionics.

Death is in the details, and the fiddly-bits are the most expensive.

Such is alot of the delays in the F-22 and F-35. Software and avionics advances much faster than the airframe or engine. New software comes out and there is a move to put the new software in the airframe because “why should America’s military have less than the best”. All that new avionics and software requires testing, coding, etc. The fact of the matter is that designing aircraft structures is simple compared to making all the computers talk to each other in meaningful ways.

B1-R please write this in words only … if you see it you’ll shit bricks !


I say they should build mach 3 flying robots in the form of William Wallace and he could kill them all with lightning bolts from his arse!

Charlie very good observation.Laser systems are the wave of the future.Here’s my suggestion,
I say they should build mach 3 flying robots in the form of William Wallace and he could kill them all with lightning bolts from his arse!

The B-1B has been an excellent asset even though it was slowed down from the original M-2 when finally put into production. Any replacements for B-1B, the B-2, and B-52H had better be the same hi-low mix. Similar to the B-1B in performance, two B-58 wings served along side the retiring B-47 fleet and the B-52 A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H (by 1966 all B-52 A/B’s and B-47E’s had been retired). The B-58’s were high speed precision nuclear weapon delivery platforms while the B-52’s being slower carried much larger payloads of nuclear or conventional weapons (making much history along the way). When someone develops a radar system that can track the B-2, then your follow-on flying wing bomber will have real problems before it is even placed in service. Develop a large and fast bomber that can also carry a respectable amount of bombs and is capable of being upgraded over the next several decades. This bomber should also be able to fly the B-52 , B-2, and B-1B mission profiles. Don’t forget to include offensive and defensive systems officers. These folks operated all of the new equipment that was installed in the B-1B and B-52’s as they were upgraded over the years.


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