US commits $80 billion to new strategic bomber to replace B52s

I too have read Empire of the Clouds. IIRC, the problem was not with the aircraft designs but with our manufacturing capacity post WWII.
Whilst the manufacturers would get interest from potential overseas customers there was no way they could ever meet the demands of production capcity and the swift timelines the customers needed the kit by.
The US on the other hand had huge aircraft plants ready to roll and could meet custmer requirments.
That was only one part of it I think.

Other issues involved producing aircraft that - despite their sound design - weren't actually commercially viable. The poster child for that was the VC10, designed for a problem no-one actually had. If your hot and high airport had enough traffic to need something that size the owners would extend the runway to allow the competition to land, offering lower seat mile cost. The only people who bought it had to and they got rid of them fairly quickly.

Then we have the curse of "British innovation", aka really bad ideas no one else was stupid enough to try. See the Fairey Rotodyne, for instance. Fairey went down swearing blind in the face of all the evidence and basic physics that all they needed was a bit more time and money to quieten the tip jets.

But above all we have the absolutely toxic relations between ofice and shop floor. It was more than just the unions which is all that usually gets mentioned, both sides were insular, loath to change, unwilling to innovate and pointlessly confrontational. They fought and fought and fought, while the world outside rendered them irrelevant.
 
That was only one part of it I think.

Other issues involved producing aircraft that - despite their sound design - weren't actually commercially viable. The poster child for that was the VC10, designed for a problem no-one actually had. If your hot and high airport had enough traffic to need something that size the owners would extend the runway to allow the competition to land, offering lower seat mile cost. The only people who bought it had to and they got rid of them fairly quickly.

Then we have the curse of "British innovation", aka really bad ideas no one else was stupid enough to try. See the Fairey Rotodyne, for instance. Fairey went down swearing blind in the face of all the evidence and basic physics that all they needed was a bit more time and money to quieten the tip jets.

But above all we have the absolutely toxic relations between ofice and shop floor. It was more than just the unions which is all that usually gets mentioned, both sides were insular, loath to change, unwilling to innovate and pointlessly confrontational. They fought and fought and fought, while the world outside rendered them irrelevant.
Have to admit, you guys are (or were?) pretty decent at design innovation, but pretty crap at mass manufacturing.
 
Have to admit, you guys are (or were?) pretty decent at design innovation, but pretty crap at mass manufacturing.

Most of the panels on the P-51 can but cut of of flat sheet, drilled for rivets and fitted, none of panels on the Spitfire can be, they are all compound curves. Mitchell was an aerodynamic genius, but unlike Schmued didn't have a clue about the need to mass produce the the final product.
It took four times longer to build a Spitfire than a P-51 despite being much the same size and using the same engine.
 
Iirc, the P51 also used stampings and pressings to a far greater extent where we used formers and blokes with hammers. It was like our manufacturing capabilities were years behind the Yanks. That said, Martin baker designed the mb51 with manufacturing in mind. A pity we never kept on to the prototype.
 
That's only partly true. Atmospheric attenuation can actually be used to an observers advantage in IR detection. IR is not a single band on the EM spectrum but goes from Short Wave IR just beyond the visible part of the spectrum to relatively low energy Long Wave IR. Designed properly an IR system can use atmospheric conditions and phenomena as 'filters' to tune out background IR radiation and increase it's ability to detect signatures in certain parts of the IR range. Those parts of the range that a supersonic or afterburning aircraft might emit in for example.


I don't have much knowledge of ground based systems but the US have had the DSP IR detection satellites up from 1970ish. Later iterations of the system are certainly quoted as being sensitive enough to track aircraft. Again, I have no direct knowledge but I would be staggered to learn that the Russians and Chinese have no similar capability.


None of the above suggests that a space based IR system could produce a targeting solution of course. But you know, isn't that how LO is supposed to work?
All agreed although filtering is standard practice whatever band of the EM Spectrum you’re exploiting. However, this does not change the fact that IR is a jolly poor way for an IADS to detect an aeroplane, particularly one travelling as fast and as high as an SR-71.

In terms of the exam question of ‘was the SR-71 an LO design?’ I would still argue yes. Although much of the LO effort went into RCS reduction, heat management of an aircraft flying at such unprecedented sustained speeds and altitudes was also critical. The most obvious IR reduction measure taken was the black (supposedly it was actually very dark blue) paintwork designed to disperse heat at specific wavelengths. Other IR measures included routing chilled fuel along areas of the airframe subject to heating to further dissipate heat. While these features were primarily designed to reduce heat stress on the aircraft’s structure, it soon became evident that they also reduced the overall IR signature of the aeroplane.

I accept that the SR-71 still had a pretty monstrous IR signature during operational runs. However, that was irrelevant. Even if detected at over 100 nm (an extremely optimistic estimate for many IR systems now let alone during the 1960s, 70s and 80s), less than 3 mins warning would be presented for an SR-71 on an operational run at M3.2 and 80 000ft+. That’s barely sufficient time for a hostile IADS to recognise the threat and call QRA, much less scramble fighters! Even when CAP is pre-positioned on a perfect geometry for a zoom climb, Viktor Balenko (the Soviet pilot who defected to Japan in 1976 with his FOXBAT) stated during his debrief that Soviet fighter crews believed that they had little hope of a successful engagement. Similarly, such a target was only within engagement parameters for contemporary SAMs for a few seconds, even assuming direct overflight without ECM or defensive heading changes.

While I’m aware of ‘overhead’ detection from DSP type systems, you correctly highlight that the challenges of migrating such data into an engagement solution are even greater. Additionally, Russia (and especially China) probably hadn’t perfected such technology to sufficient reliability during most of the Blackbird’s service. If they did, it certainly wouldn’t have been made available to client states such as Vietnam, North Korea and Libya.

Ultimately, the SR-71 remained virtually immune to engagement by any for the majority of its career. Much of that was down to kinematic performance although LO was also a factor. Indeed, ‘Habu’ aircrew had such faith in their invulnerability that they occasionally used fuel dumps to create highly visible contrails to spell out insults to hostile fighters and ground observers in morse code!!!

Total aside here, but 50's UK must have been an amazing place to be regarding aircraft.

3 V bomber designs, fast jet projects galore - its was all happening !
Cold War funding and the rapidity of technological advancement during the late 1940s-mid 60s generated an incredible volume of prototypes in the US, Soviet Union, the UK, France and even Canada. I thoroughly recommend Chuck Yeager’s autobiography (despite his ego!) to get a feeling for the unparalleled number of designs developed by the US. Like the UK, many of these were utterly barking. A prime example was the XF-84H ‘Thunderscreech’ which placed a supersonic propellor on an F-84. The result was so loud it could allegedly be heard 25 miles away during ground runs!!



However, enough thread drift...let's get back to the LRS-B!!

It appears that the LRS-B is already feeling budgetary squeeze despite the usual Congressional imposition of 'unrequested funding' for additional FA-18, F-35B and - ironically - A-10 life extension!

The sad thing is that there is immense room to save money across US Defence if they could just get over themselves and think more jointly. The fact that each of their 4 services has at least 2 unique sets of combat kit is a prime example!!

Regards,
MM
 
Saw this here - Northrop beats Boeing for crucial Pentagon bomber contract

Interesting article, firstly its clear that Boeing is in deep trouble over the lack of military orders coming up. Secondly, its interesting that this aircraft is so highly classified that no details are emerging on it - essentially the taxpayer is stumping up blind $80bn for a plane that has no known details - that could be a hard sell when budget cuts hit on the hill.

Finally, how long before people demand we buy into it to replace the Typhoon? :)
Could it be that Boeing is anti Union and Obama's buddies are all lefty pro union types?
 
'F’ it. A replacement is just going to be too expensive. Lets just do without one.’ ‘ Peace in our time."

That will go down well with the punters as an alternative to having a replacement.

Actually there are a number of Corbynista’s over here, and their US counterparts that do think that way. Luckily in a minority.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
^ send the ghost of Curtis leMay along to support the presentation
 
Saw this here - Northrop beats Boeing for crucial Pentagon bomber contract

Interesting article, firstly its clear that Boeing is in deep trouble over the lack of military orders coming up. Secondly, its interesting that this aircraft is so highly classified that no details are emerging on it - essentially the taxpayer is stumping up blind $80bn for a plane that has no known details - that could be a hard sell when budget cuts hit on the hill.

Finally, how long before people demand we buy into it to replace the Typhoon? :)
Think defence will blog about how it could replace all FJ and CASD.
 

Slime

LE
Sound like a lot but its chicken feed when you consider how much the B21 will cost, aircraft cost more than just the fly away price and that the Americans use a different figure for a billion than us Brits (well, quite often they do)
 
I've often thought there is a Hollywood action movie script in there ...
Called B52 it is one of those films that follows the generations of one family (all probably played by Bruce Willis) flying the bomber in its different roles over time. The 50s Nuclear role, Vietnam... Afghan...

Copyright etc?
Don't give a ****
Take it, have it.
Not interested in septic history.
Films about or featuring B52 bombers:
Bombers B52 (No Sleep Till Dawn in UK)
Fail Safe
Dr Strangelove
By Dawns Early Light

All very watchable
 
That was only one part of it I think.

Other issues involved producing aircraft that - despite their sound design - weren't actually commercially viable. The poster child for that was the VC10, designed for a problem no-one actually had. If your hot and high airport had enough traffic to need something that size the owners would extend the runway to allow the competition to land, offering lower seat mile cost. The only people who bought it had to and they got rid of them fairly quickly.

Then we have the curse of "British innovation", aka really bad ideas no one else was stupid enough to try. See the Fairey Rotodyne, for instance. Fairey went down swearing blind in the face of all the evidence and basic physics that all they needed was a bit more time and money to quieten the tip jets.

But above all we have the absolutely toxic relations between ofice and shop floor. It was more than just the unions which is all that usually gets mentioned, both sides were insular, loath to change, unwilling to innovate and pointlessly confrontational. They fought and fought and fought, while the world outside rendered them irrelevant.
The other thing was sales to overseas customers and emerging nations (many of whom were former colonies so viewed askance by the stuffy old managers) was conducted so poorly.

Eg; An African government enquires about buying Bristol Britannias or whatnot and they get sent a brochure by 2nd class post. Might have a compliment slip in it too. No follow up calls or visits.

They ask Boeing and the next day a 707 flies to that country with a sales team on board and flies that African state's Minister for Air Travel & Tourism to Dallas to get him drunk and blown by big-titted hookers until he signs a contract for planes he can't afford.

That's why they mass produce while we 'coach build'
 
Does the US have the same military equipment procurement process as the UK?
No. As you can see, we start paying, planning, and developing well before it is due to be installed. We do not wait until after all the other systems to be replaced have been retired and scrapped not yet having been fitted WITH "options."
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
The SR-71 ws NOT a "stealth" aircraft at all due to its heat signature and extremely large - and predictable - flight path due to the speed it travelled at. Here's some data. Although redacted in parts, the flight manual is avilable at the link :

"The SR-71 had a minimum turning radius at altitude of about 80 nautical miles (NM)...
At a turn radius of 80 NM, the SR-71 would cover about 145 miles, taking about 4 minutes in the process of making a 180 degree turn.Details are provided in the SR-71 flight manual handbook, which is now declassified"
I remember the day SR-71 set a new Atlantic crossing record. Much was made of it being over Holland before it could turn round.
 

Top