LRS-Bomber to look at proven technologies from the F-22/ 35

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neptune

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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 04:40

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2012/ ... ic-071712/

Future USAF acquisition to focus on Pacific

By Marcus Weisgerber - Staff writer
Tuesday Jul 17, 2012 19:05:39 EDT

The Air Force will return to its roots in the coming years, tailoring its acquisition needs to meet the Pentagon’s Pacific-focused military strategy by buying stealthy aircraft and systems.

That means the service will look to purchase systems and aircraft — particularly a new bomber — that can fly without being noticed in denied airspace, a reversal of Air Force operations over the past decade.

....the new bomber, which is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s and cost about $550 million each....

..“We’ll probably look at some pretty cutting-edge capabilities in airframe design and things like that, but we’ll also probably look at some very proven technologies that come from [the] F-22, F-35 ... [and] other programs out there so you reduce the risk,”...

...“You want something that has speed, range, stealth, high altitude [and is] optionally manned,” he said....

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SpudmanWP

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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 05:45

Um, didn't the B-2 cost $500 mil each to build?

Why not just redesign the B-2 with F-35 coatings (tough),avionics and engines?
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 06:07

SpudmanWP wrote:Um, didn't the B-2 cost $500 mil each to build?

Why not just redesign the B-2 with F-35 coatings (tough),avionics and engines?

The B-2 designed in the 80s, flew in the 90s, and has a unit cost of $737m(1997 dollars). If they re-opened the production line it would have a unit cost of at least $1.4bn, which congress wont approve. They need something more affordable.

The only way the LRS-B will succeed is if the cost stays under control, and the production numbers stay sufficiently high. For comparison, A 787 with 1000 orders has a unit cost of $200m. If they produced a Boeing 787-Tactical at 100 units, it would probably at least double that.
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 06:23

Most of the cost is in the avionics which it could borrow from the F-35. Throw in the RAM & engines and you save a bunch.

Besides, manufacturing technology has come a long way since the B-2 was build and you could likely build it cheaper (even with original equip) today than it originally cost.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 07:15

I thought the tooling for the b2 was destroyed so any new builds would have to start from scratch anyway?
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 07:33

No matter what you did, be it redesign the B-2 or go with a new design, you would need to retool due to advances in technology that have occurred over the past 20+ years (yes it's been that long for the B-2).
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 10:16

Expect the LRS-B to reset the bar for,stealth aircraft. I'm hoping they manage to implement some sort t of morphing wing design.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 13:43

SpudmanWP wrote:Most of the cost is in the avionics which it could borrow from the F-35. Throw in the RAM & engines and you save a bunch.

Besides, manufacturing technology has come a long way since the B-2 was build and you could likely build it cheaper (even with original equip) today than it originally cost.

...

No matter what you did, be it redesign the B-2 or go with a new design, you would need to retool due to advances in technology that have occurred over the past 20+ years (yes it's been that long for the B-2).


It's not so simple to just retool a factory, and suddenly you can just build yesterday's airplane from yesterday's blueprints cheaper. You have to redesign many parts of the airplane from scratch to make them efficiently compatible with the modern tooling, or deal with huge and costly inefficiencies in the manufacturing. You flat out could not build a 1979 Plymouth on a 2012 Dodge assembly line. It's not much different with an aircraft. If you want to build the B-2, duplicate the old tooling that was used to build the B-2. The original tooling for the B-2 is gone; it's not like there even is any manufacturing efficiency to be gained by trying to stick with the original parts of the plane. And the B-2 was never cheap to manufacture. Modern tooling is not going to magically change that. Starting from scratch, you can work on a design that will be cheaper to manufacture with modern tooling.

It's also not so simple to just take an aircraft from the Carter administration and slap on some 2012 technology. The F-35 achieves affordable stealth in part through tighter manufacturing tolerances available from today's machines, than were available when the B-2 was actually built. The F-35 was designed from the ground up to be built with those tolerances. The B-2 was not. You can't just take the B-2 as designed, and declare the tolerances tighter. Parts will not fit together that way. Parts will interefere, or gap apart, or break when the airframe flexes, assuming they don't even while it's sitting on the ground. The parts must be shaped to hold those tolerances in operation; the parts of the B-2 are not. Trying to incorporate 2012 stealth technology into the B-2 would require substantial redesign of a lot of parts. It's not cheaper than designing a new plane to use those tolerances from scratch.

The modern avionics will work better in an aircraft designed around them. The antenna cavities should be shaped for the avionics that go in them. In the B-2, they're shaped for the 1980s avionics that went in them in the early 1990s. You are correct the avionics are the majority of the cost. So take the avionics from the F-35 (not the B-2!), and design a plane around them. Not just the radar, communications antennas, and sensors. For the same reasons the electrohydrostatic actuators are in the F-35, tremendous efficiencies would be gained putting them in the new bomber. The B-2 has hydraulic lines its hydraulic actuators need, not the electrical grid the new actuators need. And the form factor is different. That would all require yet more significant redesign.

It makes essentially no sense to even consider starting with the B-2. It saves very little in terms of design costs, saddles the manufacturing with a lot of anachronistic inefficiencies, and leaves the users with an outdated plane that costs more to operate. Starting from putting today's knowledge onto a clean sheet of paper, we can design a modern bomber. What tiny amounts you may save on not having to re-do some rather gross structural and shape calculations will be swamped out over time by build costs, operational inefficiencies, and maintenance costs if you don't.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 14:22

neptune wrote:....the new bomber, which is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s and cost


Just in time to provide the "answer" to the Pak-Da which is now slated to rollout in 2020.

But what are the Russians going to do about the Pak Da? There isn't any time for them to copy the design? They're going to be left with copying a 30 year old B-2 design!
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 15:04

The main thing I'd worry about with costs of modern planes isn't the design phase but the testing phase. It just drags on and on and on and on. An old design has already been tested. But that advantage wouldn't be enough to make it worth it.

But there are other issues with purely just making a new B-2. It was made from the metals that planes were made of back then, and a new plane can save fuel and carry more payload farther by being made lighter with the use of either different metals in certain places or composites instead of metals in other places. But you can't take a part that was meant to be made from one material and just make it from another. You have to reshape it to exploit the new material's advantages and avoid its disadvantages, or possibly add new parts or eliminate old ones or merge two parts together or split one into multiple parts. And you don't attach two pieces of one material together the same way you attach two pieces of another material together, so every joint involving at least one object of a different material from before has to be different, even if that means changing a part that you would have kept the same otherwise. And the newer outer layer of stealth material is not just a paint job but the entire hull itself, so you'd have to replace all of the outer plates with the new stuff, and it won't attach to the frame in the same way the original did either.

Also, they want a smaller plane this time (payload in the 20s of thousands of pounds, not 40 or 50). That saves a lot on construction costs and allows greater quantity (which makes them easier to distribute over multiple locations), and also reduces hanger requirements and fuel consumption. Sometimes you can get away with making a simple size change in conventional airplane types, but the shifting of area/volume ratios would mean it wasn't really optimized for its new size. And it makes an even bigger difference in the case of a big flying wedge: if you get too small you might not be able to stabilize without tail fins, and tail fins add drag and radar return. (In fact, the LockMart competitor for the B-2 program was smaller and needed tail fins.) Modern methods might allow it to go without tail fins at a smaller size than was possible before, but that would involve tinkering with the plane's shape in some other way. And the smaller size also makes it more likely that it would be better to have two engines instead of four, in which case everything around the engines would also need to be reshaped.

And, although I don't remember where I saw this, they also have expressed an interest in switching to a single weapon bay in the middle instead of two side by side, and that alone, even without anything else changing, would completely rearrange all of the forces of the structures pushing & pulling on each other inside the plane.

I'm sure it will look a lot like a B-2, though, just because a single big wedge is the ideal stealth shape and the fact that it's not a fighter means there's no incentive to deviate from that ideal to shape it like a fighter, which is what keeps F-22 and F-35 from being wedges. It could even be a modified B-2 (and that would explain why Northrop-Grumman expects to get it done as soon as they do, and might help shorten its time in Testing Hell), but the modifications would be deep, like what happened with Hornets.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 17:16

popcorn wrote:Expect the LRS-B to reset the bar for,stealth aircraft. I'm hoping they manage to implement some sort t of morphing wing design.


Please No. No. No.
More than ever this next bomber stands a great chance of proving all the pundits of The Death Spiral correct.
Trying to implement over-the-top features that have never been production proven into the design is a very bad first step down that road.
How many years would a morphing wing add to the production and test schedule? I guessing two Administrations worth.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 17:42

I have a serious question I'd like to pose to you current crop of fliers... With a flying wing design, its awesome for aerodynamics, cruising long ranges at altitude, and its very hard to spot visually. I've seen B-2s enough to see how it "flattens out" into a thin sliver that if you're weren't observing it when it was close, you'd never spot that thin flying wing at distances Buffs and Bones stick out like out like a black bear in the snow. But, once spotted its easily defeated. Wouldn't it be better to have a low altitude penetrator with extremely good LO tech, such that its not restricted to one mission profile: high and slow. The higher you are, the more time you're targetable because of simple trigonometry. Yeah, I know "but if they can't see you" argument, but truly there is no such thing as an invisible airplane. Wouldn't it be wise to build a plane that can fly the high altitude mission profile when appropriate, but can also drop down to a B-1 nap of the earth mission?
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 17:45

The lower you are the closer you have to get to launch a weapon and you can be seen/heard by people on the ground.

The higher you are the harder you are to see or hear.

The higher you are the easier it is to detect and geolocate emissions on the ground.
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 18:25

It would not take much to build a 79 Plymouth on a modern Dodge assembly line. The 79's were uni-body construction and so are the new vehicles. About the only changes you would need to make would be the addition of locating tabs to the sheet metal for robotic assembly and welding.

Thought the B-2 tooling was still stored at AMARG. Saw it there in 2008. Aren't they using it to rebuild one?

Wasn't the costly redesign of the B-2 from the simple W shape the result of adding the low level penetration to it's mission?

What bothers me about the new bomber is the reduction in range from 6000 miles unrefueled to 5000. How many less targets are we able to reach as result of this?
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Unread post19 Jul 2012, 18:43

marksengineer wrote:It would not take much to build a 79 Plymouth on a modern Dodge assembly line. The 79's were uni-body construction and so are the new vehicles. About the only changes you would need to make would be the addition of locating tabs to the sheet metal for robotic assembly and welding.

Thought the B-2 tooling was still stored at AMARG. Saw it there in 2008. Aren't they using it to rebuild one?

Wasn't the costly redesign of the B-2 from the simple W shape the result of adding the low level penetration to it's mission?

What bothers me about the new bomber is the reduction in range from 6000 miles unrefueled to 5000. How many less targets are we able to reach as result of this?


Not many. Go draw some 2,400 mile radius circles on a map and see where you can't get. If I refuel the thing somewhere along the line from Japan to the Philippines I can get the vast majority of China.

Something has to give on designs. We have plenty of tankers so trading some range for affordability makes all the sense in the world.
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