Frank Whittle
Hans von Ohain
Heinkel He 176
French ramjet experiment
commercial jet aviation
in search of speed
the Cold War
the B-52 Bomber
the Soviet Blackjack
Soviet vertical takeoff efforts
Curtiss LeMay and SACs
the aircraft carrier
cold war fighters
the B2 bomber early programme
US bombers - the future
post war British air defence
French nuclear deterrence
current air capability of China
helicopters at war
'small' wars
guided bombs
cruise missiles

Future of the United States Long Range, Heavy Manned Bomber Programme
R. Colon
PO Box 29754
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00929

Under the current set of planning in the Pentagon, the venerable B-52, the B-1 Lancer and the new B-2 Spirit bomber will still be the backbone of the United States Air Force deterrence capability well beyond 2035, by which time, attrition will have reduced the bomber force below the necessary minimum of 170 front line aircraft. It would have been hard to imagine back in the early 1950s, but the B-52 will probably fly until 2045, nearly a full century after it first took to the air. The current planning is based on a set of operating procedures, service life estimates and attrition models. At the current pace, the front line service inventory will reach the minimum required number of 170 by 2035. On this date, the Initial Operational Capability would already had developed and introduced to the active inventory the next generation long range heavy bomber. Based on this current development plan, a programme for the research and development of a next generation bomber should start no later than 2013. Any delays beyond that day will almost certainly put the force of active bombers below the threshold of 170. There’s a variable in the current planning estimates. As changes in manufacturing techniques fuelled by advances in technologies related to precision munitions, established and emerging threats. Improvements in the aerospace industry ability to perform cost effective structural extensions and major systems upgrades to existing airframes could extend the current bomber force beyond current estimates. These developments could push back the original timeline for acquisition of a replacement bomber programme.

The new bomber programme, the Light Bomber Concept calls for the development of a medium size airplane that combines the advantages of the newest tactical fighters with the strategic mission profile of a heavy bomber. The envisioned result of this combination would be the design of a medium-long range bomber with a high payload capability. This new aircraft would probably utilize a new form of low-observable, stealthy system that would render the bomber nearly invisible to even the newest of tracking radar systems. The United States Congress directed the Air Force to produce a new bomber research and development report. The Bomber Industrial Capabilities Study was born. Its main conclusion stated that the complete process of designing and data collection for a new bomber would easily cost in excess of $35 billion. The main future research advisory panel for the Unites States Air Force, the Scientific Advisory Board, suggested that the new bomber would need to have the ability to take off from bases in America and fly its mission profile anywhere in the world. Currently envisioned profile for this new bomber had it with a service range of 3,250 nautical miles without refuelling. The speeds the new bomber would reach, Mach 2, would rival that of the cancelled Valkarie Heavy Bomber. The fastest bomber ever designed. The weight specifications would be 350,000lbs fully loaded. The payload the bomber would carry according to the concept specifications would be 20,000lbs. But the most impressive feature of this new heavy bird would be its stealthy characteristics. In the past, conventional wisdom stated that any improvement on the speed of the bomber would come at the expense of its stealth capabilities. The slower the bomber moves, the more invisible it would be to the enemy radar system. The use of current off the shelf technologies added to the amazing new developments taking place today would enable this new bomber to reach speeds never imagined without losing any of its stealth capabilities. An inventory of just 80 of these new bombers could deliver enough precision ordinances to duplicate the Allied total air effort of the 1991’s Desert Storm campaign.