October 28, 2015 by JImbo
It’s so “invisible” that it doesn’t even EXIST!
Here’s all you need to know about this “contract.”
“The Air Force has made the right decision for our nation’s security,” Wes Bush, the company’s chief executive officer. “As the company that developed and delivered the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, we look forward to providing the Air Force with a highly-capable and affordable next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber.”
He added, “Our team has the resources in place to execute this important program, and we’re ready to get to work.”
They don’t even have a solid DESIGN for a plane, let alone an ACTUAL AIRPLANE.
A few scribbles on a napkin and a “concept” is all they’re working off of.
That drawing above is about as much information as exists on the proposed “LRS-B design.”
Yet they “won the competition.”
I know we’re being all hip and modern now, but I kinda still liked the old fashioned idea of building an airplane…TESTING it… and THEN deciding if we wanted to buy it.
Now we just say “I have a cool idea.”
That’s enough to get a $42 BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT!
Well fair is fair. I have a “cool idea” for a new bomber too.
You take the existing C-130. A dependable, cheap, capable design.
It can carry missiles ALREADY.
It’s been tested.
It can carry drones. (The DC-130 pictured below…from 50 years ago in VIETNAM)
It has a fuel bladder you can put inside (because the C-130 can be used as an air tanker.)
It has a targeting and strike kit already fielded in US Marine C-130s.
Put all those parts that already exist on the C-130 together.
Let’s call it a “BC-130.”
I can buy about FOUR new BC-130s basically off the assembly line for the cost of ONE of these new $550+ million bombers. (Let’s be honest here. When has a new stealth plane EVER been on budget in the last 30 years? Especially one that doesn’t even EXIST yet?)
Anyway, 6 cruise missiles each times 4 planes means 24 cruise missiles for each 4-plane purchase.
The new bomber “concept” is to carry… max 24 cruise missiles.
So, you get the same “bang for the buck.”
The LRS-B replaces the B-52…which is a subsonic non-stealthy plane.
The BC-130 is a subsonic non-stealthy plane too. It doesn’t NEED to be. It’s job is to fly a long way over oceans and such and OUTSIDE the range of enemy defenses lob a bunch of cruise missiles. Then the cruise missiles (themselves stealthy) dodge enemy defenses while the B-52 (or in this case a BC-130) flies back home safely.
It doesn’t take a stealth bomber. It doesn’t take a fast bomber. It doesn’t take an expensive bomber.
Heck, it doesn’t even take a BOMBER.
There have been studies of transport planes with cruise missiles before.
However, they involved extensive modifications and long testing periods. The idea was to… like a bomber unit keep them as BOMBERS at all times.
A transport plane with missiles under the wings can do that mission… and do it WELL.
Plus it gets to be used as a transport the other 99.9% of the time.
Like I said, we proved the technology for this BACK IN VIETNAM!
That’s right. Vietnam. 50 years ago. With C-130s.
The only difference is that we have much better drones and missiles now to put ON the planes. The drones and missiles are even smaller and lighter. The planes themselves don’t need to be upgraded at all basically.
The missiles and racks would be the same ones used by the B-52 that is being replaced.
(see how much smaller and more aerodynamic those would be compared to those bulky drones?)
The bonus is that bombers can’t do anything but bomb. The rest of the time they sit around WAITING to bomb something.
With BC-130 transports, all that time they are not carrying missiles… they can fly around like REGULAR C-130s. They can carry troops, cargo, fuel…whatever.
Instead of 80-100 of those bombers to sit around collecting dust, we can have 320-400 more transport planes in our fleet. That DOUBLES the number in the Air Force fleet.
They can be tankers. They can be transports. They can be radar jammers. They can be drone launchers. There are literally dozens of roles they can perform that we haven’t had enough airplanes to do.Dozens of roles for which we’ve been paying civilian contractors to do for twice the cost.
When we go somewhere in the Army we often go by airliner. Why? Because we’re told that the Air Force doesn’t have enough transports to send us. So, we rent out airliners. Think of all the savings having enough planes to do it ourselves for half the cost would save us!
For NO additional cost to the Air Force since we wanted to buy the bombers anyway and we’d be replacing old, expensive to maintain B-52 bombers. Essentially we get to double our transport fleet for FREE simply by using our resources more efficiently. Any way you look at it, we are saving big bucks and getting more for our money.
Not to mention that tactically they are very flexible. Normally when a bomber squadron deploys they need to bring C-130 transports with them and KC-135/KC-10 tankers.
In this case they can be their OWN transports and tankers. The squadron doesn’t NEED any help going somewhere. They can do it all. It’s a self-contained highly mobile unit that is also not tied to long runways since the C-130 is one of the best large transports in the world for landing on short, dirt airstrips.
In short they would be the most cost effective, capable, reliable and flexible transport/bomber fleet on the planet. As an added bonus, you don’t have to upgrade the aircraft any more than a regular C-130. As enemy defenses get better you just build better cruise missiles and stick them on the wings. You don’t have to redesign the whole airplane.
When a stealth plane gets older or needs an update or modification you have to essentially start from scratch and redesign most of the plane around the modification. That takes millions to billions of dollars and years of work.
Now remember what Mr. Bush from Northrop-Grumman said.
“…we look forward to providing the Air Force with a highly-capable and affordable next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber.”
Sounds to me like a small number of expensive, vulnerable bombers that need long runways and lots of support aircraft is quite the opposite of “affordable” and “highly capable.”
The BC-130 is BOTH of those things… in spades.
The only catch is that the Air Force would have to spend their money on aircraft they can USE instead of more super-expensive stealth planes that hide in air conditioned hangars all day.
Now THAT is the real challenge. The brass sure do like their shiny toys.
Like the F-35 “stealth fighter” that is not really a fighter, not really that stealthy, and already over budget and 10 years behind schedule. And they tend to catch on fire.
That sort of thing happens when you award contracts for “concepts” and drawings before you’ve built a single piece of the plane. That works for politicians though. For them it’s all about the money. The actual airplane is just an inconvenience you go through to get the money.