B-21 (LRS-B) Thread

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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popcorn

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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 11:47

LRSB is a major priority program that merits it‘s own thread. Being a 'black' program only means that official information will be harder to come by so speculation will be the order of the day. The new bomber should foster an entire cottage industry of speculators keeping us entertained for the next decade.

Here!s Loren Thompson's take. Boeing execs probably feeling warm and fuzzy all over. First Bill Sweetman anoint them as winning the UCLASS competition now LT predicts them building LRSB. We'll see.




http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthomps ... -it-seems/
Last edited by popcorn on 11 Mar 2015, 13:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 12:38

Well, Boeing may have lost out on the JSF contract partly for lack of experience with stealth, so it seems like they've learned from that and partnered up with the company that beat them: Lockheed. Seeing as how Lockheed is the only company in the world with experience building low maintenance stealth coatings (a la F-35), it would appear this is a slam dunk for Boeing-Lockheed.

I guess the Air Force can't forbid companies from teaming up, but this hardly seems like a real competition. It only seems like Northrup Grumann is getting a shot because of the B-2, sort of a pity invite. N-G does have the B-2 under their belt, maybe they manage to win the contract, but there's a good chance that they have to team up with Boeing or Lockheed to execute the final project.

Hey, maybe that's what Lockheed is counting on. They join up with Boeing and if Boeing wins the contract, they're already in. If N-G is the winner, N-G will need a industrial partner. Hey, who has the most experience building stealth planes? More importantly, who has the most experience building low maintenance stealth coatings? Oh yeah, that would be Lockheed.

I guess what I'm saying is that no matter what happens with this competition, Lockheed wins. 8)
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 13:44

I think you are missing something here: Northrop Grumman is building a very large fraction of the F-35, including lots of outer skin and apparently most of its sensors, and doing the same for the F-18. So they have their fingers in pretty much everything.
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 13:58

So what you're saying is that Lockheed has thrown Northrup Grumman a lot of work on the F-35. I'm sure they did that out of the sheer goodness of their heart. Not expecting any payback at all.

Either way this goes, the big winner would appear to be Lockheed. :wink:
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 14:10

mrigdon wrote:So what you're saying is that Lockheed has thrown Northrup Grumman a lot of work on the F-35. I'm sure they did that out of the sheer goodness of their heart. Not expecting any payback at all.

Either way this goes, the big winner would appear to be Lockheed. :wink:

Well, Lockheed is going to have its plate full with assembling the F-35, and Boeing has more business in the non-defense sector than either. One thing to look at would be the cost savings of using the same sensor systems on both the JSF and LRS-B, which NG has. If Boeing wins, they may be subcontracting to NG anyway.
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 15:23

I'm betting that the Northrop Grumman will win this one.

The US Government has publicly stated that it wants to preserve the aviation industry's technical & knowledge base.

So the LRSB / T-X / 2030 bomber all have a very high chance of "Not LM" winning due to that motive.

Plus I'm sure Northrop Grumman ingenuity + Scale Composites as part of it's company + lessons learned + government motive will give them enough room to constantly adjust their design till it wins this time around.

It might not be fair, but the US government will due whatever it takes to get the results it wants.

And I really think preserving their industrial base and not letting military aviation become a 1 company race is paramount.
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 22:35

The other thing not mentioned in the article is that the Air Force wants to get the basic airframe for $550M each, but is planning for upgrades beyond that as time goes on. So, the end result should be something much more capable than the initial price tag implies, and the initial airframe will be built with a lot of room for growth.
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Unread post11 Mar 2015, 23:35

a la Super Hornet. Take the X-47 shape and scale up 3 fold, use now/then OTS sensors and skin tech from the F-35, with room internally for growth. NG slam dunk.
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 00:03

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:a la Super Hornet. Take the X-47 shape and scale up 3 fold, use now/then OTS sensors and skin tech from the F-35, with room internally for growth. NG slam dunk.


Why do you think the X-47B "Cranked Kite" design is preferred over the "Flying Wing"

I know that Northrop Grumman developed both designs, but from what I can tell, the "Flying Wing" is a superior planform in many ways.
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 00:34

The Cost+Fee arrangement possibly hints at the inclusion of some bleeding-edge tech and not just warmed-over 5Gen stuff.
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 01:47

Cranked kite is easier from a stability and control standpoint, but flying wing is better from an RCS standpoint.
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 05:47

Oh dear, I wish I had the time the last two days to put up a small post that I wanted to at my place, but life gets in the way...Maybe tomorrow. I was sent a link to this article by an LM colleague and responded something to the effect of:
1. Thompson gets some things wrong... some things right.
2. His last point was pure public perception battlefield prep B.S.!
3. He may have revealed more about Boeing's technical approach than intended, under the belief (by Thompson or the Borg?) there could be no other solution other than what Boeing was dreaming up. I SURE do hope so for Northrop Grumman's sake.

To go further, Guess which F-35 partner provided LM A LOT of the key LO design features? As far as I know (and I know pretty far) Fiber-mat was LM's baby, everything else...not so much a solo act. Some features on the F-35 are even evolved from the B-2 LO Sustainability program. In any case, all established LO manufacturers and the USG participate in a joint working group to actually do what others only talk about: share lessons learned. I'm tempted to tell a joke here about a pre-source selection LO meeting on the F-35 and we were consulting for LM, but....

As to who 'should' win. The Borg don't need any favors -- they stole the KC-X program with political maneuvering and everyone (who's honest and paid attention) knows it. Boeing was a PITA to LM during the F-22 program: always late, always wanting more money to finish whatever they were dong and took credit for everything and ran away from blame. Boeing tried to steal the B-2 away from their teammate Northrop when the USG changed requirements about halfway through the initial B-2 design process to cause a redesign.Boeing hasn't built a bomber since the 1960s. They inherited the B-1B. Unless some really bright boy has come up with some really great and innovative, outside-the-box-thinking for Boeing this time (is that LMs role?) they will play the political game again as a priority over 'content' provided: their Marketeers are second to none. Thompson is but one card in their deck of jokers.
Northrop Grumman? I don't know. Seems they're rearranging chairs in their sectors and 'centers of excellence'/ We'll see.

Other topics:
1. Cranked kite planform for the X-47B came about because the USN changed their objective from a cruiser to a loiterer. Look at the basic X-47A to see the optimal planform for the cruiser. Stick some wings out of the sides and voila' : a loiterer. As a bonus, the voluminous body that remained was great for packing in all the goodies.
2. Boeing lost out on the F-35 before it ever got to the 'stealth' part. They lost it when they had to redesign away from a tailless delta with huge fuel capacity because it didn't have carrier approach control-ability. They lost it when they couldn't demonstrate the manufacturing ability needed for their one piece composite skin approach, and they lost it when they took the hot gas only no-growth-capability design route for STOVL vertical lift.
3. There is no 'U' in Northrop. Jack Northrop: Best engineer the Loughead's ever had.

My 2 cents
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 05:58

smsgtmac wrote:Oh dear, I wish I had the time the last two days to put up a small post that I wanted to at my place, but life gets in the way...Maybe tomorrow. I was sent a link to this article by an LM colleague and responded something to the effect of:
1. Thompson gets some things wrong... some things right.
2. His last point was pure public perception battlefield prep B.S.!
3. He may have revealed more about Boeing's technical approach than intended, under the belief (by Thompson or the Borg?) there could be no other solution other than what Boeing was dreaming up. I SURE do hope so for Northrop Grumman's sake.

To go further, Guess which F-35 partner provided LM A LOT of the key LO design features? As far as I know (and I know pretty far) Fiber-mat was LM's baby, everything else...not so much a solo act. Some features on the F-35 are even evolved from the B-2 LO Sustainability program. In any case, all established LO manufacturers and the USG participate in a joint working group to actually do what others only talk about: share lessons learned. I'm tempted to tell a joke here about a pre-source selection LO meeting on the F-35 and we were consulting for LM, but....

As to who 'should' win. The Borg don't need any favors -- they stole the KC-X program with political maneuvering and everyone (who's honest and paid attention) knows it. Boeing was a PITA to LM during the F-22 program: always late, always wanting more money to finish whatever they were dong and took credit for everything and ran away from blame. Boeing tried to steal the B-2 away from their teammate Northrop when the USG changed requirements about halfway through the initial B-2 design process to cause a redesign.Boeing hasn't built a bomber since the 1960s. They inherited the B-1B. Unless some really bright boy has come up with some really great and innovative, outside-the-box-thinking for Boeing this time (is that LMs role?) they will play the political game again as a priority over 'content' provided: their Marketeers are second to none. Thompson is but one card in their deck of jokers.
Northrop Grumman? I don't know. Seems they're rearranging chairs in their sectors and 'centers of excellence'/ We'll see.

Other topics:
1. Cranked kite planform for the X-47B came about because the USN changed their objective from a cruiser to a loiterer. Look at the basic X-47A to see the optimal planform for the cruiser. Stick some wings out of the sides and voila' : a loiterer. As a bonus, the voluminous body that remained was great for packing in all the goodies.
2. Boeing lost out on the F-35 before it ever got to the 'stealth' part. They lost it when they had to redesign away from a tailless delta with huge fuel capacity because it didn't have carrier approach control-ability. They lost it when they couldn't demonstrate the manufacturing ability needed for their one piece composite skin approach, and they lost it when they took the hot gas only no-growth-capability design route for STOVL vertical lift.
3. There is no 'U' in Northrop. Jack Northrop: Best engineer the Loughead's ever had.

My 2 cents


I'm a big fan of Jack Northrop's aviation history.

The flying wing is such a beautiful design choice, hopefully the B-3 / LRSB will be a Northrop Grumman design that is a shrunk down more efficient flying wing with all the modern trimmings.

Today I was chit chatting with somebody who is a Aerospace parts supplier, and boy did they have no good things to say about Boeing and their bureaucracy. The gull of them demanding a 15% discount off of their suppliers which would've caused them to lose money, and then act offended when they didn't get the discount is hilarious, yet sadly true.
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 07:14

smsgtmac wrote:They inherited the B-1B...

AFAIK Boeing's last fighter designed in-house. :D
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Unread post12 Mar 2015, 07:15

My name gets misspelled quite a bit, I must be projecting :oops:

Interesting behind the scenes info. The article mentioned that Northop-Grumman was looking to get out of military jets, at least as a prime contractor. However, putting Boeing and Lockheed together (or allowing them to work together, however it shook out) seems to be a last ditch effort to keep Boeing in the manned military aircraft market. It seems probable that Lockheed will pick up some work from N-G if they win. I'm not sure Scaled Composites will be able to produce the quantities by themselves, but who knows? It's a ways off until the contract is awarded...

I have two concerns about the bidding, but the first may be invalid these days. The first is that with just two teams, you may not get a wide enough range of alternatives, that if Lockheed were to go it alone they might bring something to the table that Boeing wouldn't choose. There will be certain designs downselected by Boeing before the Air Force even gets a chance to see them. Obviously, we can't get back to the days where five or six different companies are bidding, but it seems that just two teams might close the Air Force off from some design opportunities that might be out of the ordinary. Then again, the costs of designing a modern plane are so massive that perhaps there's no way a maverick operation could come in and offer a real alternative.

My second concern is that having just two bidders, and with Lockheed and Boeing teamed up, it's going to be a repeat of all the attacks on the B-2, the F-22, and the F-35 about high costs and lobbyists and military-industrial blah, blah, blah. I know that having three or more bids won't stop any of those attacks, but it seems this is setting up a fight over the bomber before the two teams are even building a prototype. Procurement is much more political than it used to be. I'm not sure this is going to help smooth the process.

I do look forward to the "Why is the B-3 replacing the B-52?" thread in about ten years :(
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