The B-21, the new strategic bomber of the United States, is designed to fly without a crew. Although still classified, details emerge on the Northrop Grumman plane in a report delivered to Congress.
It is confirmed that the B-21 will enter service between 2020 and 2025. The first Air Force contract provides for the purchase of five lots for a total of 21 aircraft. The supply will not be subject to reduction, so as not to repeat the error made for B-2, that for an order of 132 aircraft ended only with 21 with exorbitant costs.
It is confirmed that the B-3 will be assembled in Palmdale, in the same facilities where were were built the B-1 and B-2 (built by Northrop). Each bomber will cost 500/550 million dollars for a fleet of 100 of new generation aircraft. With total expenditure of $ 55 billion.
The Air Force was pressing for a force of at least 150 bombers ready for combat respectfully to 80/100 projected by the Defense Department. An valuation - stated by the Air Force - purely economic and not realistic, even in the face of the new aggressive Russian and Chinese actions.
Congress does not seem to want to go beyond the hundred B-21. The new bomber will cost a quarter of the B-2, currently in USAF force. The twenty-one aircraft that were built now have prohibitive operating costs that relegate the B-2 aircraft to more propaganda than to realistic combat aircraft (also because there are no theaters that require the strength, the power and the B-2 technology, as the dissolved ' USSR required).
The report confirms that "the B-21 was designed to hit any part of the world taking off from the United States." The payload capacity will be lower than the B-2, this gap that will be filled with the massive use of new generation intelligent weapons. In this way, the offensive ability of the B-21 will be comparable to that of the B-2. Some aerodynamic solutions of the B-2 may also be used in the B-21.
Another great feature of the B-21 will be its complete integration in the various military networks, including orbital reconnaissance systems. Determinants will be the off-board systems to collect targeting data and for electronic countermeasures. The bomber subsonic long-range will be able to play both roles that conventional nuclear.
In congressional report reference is made to "unmanned aircraft by human operators." To detect, that the report delivered to Congress is largely classified and that for the new Long-Range Strike Bomber was repeatedly assumed "a certain level of artificial intelligence".
The report points out that "the Initial Operational Capacity for conventional roles will be declared with the human component on board. With the Full Operational Capacity, two years later, the B-21 can perform deterrence missions. Subsequently, the B-21 will be unmanned."
E 'confirmed that the human component will be present in the first 21 specimens, which fall in the first batch. The program Long-Range Strike Bomber is classified in 2011, but the two prototypes presented by Northrop Grumman and a team of Boeing / Lockheed Martin flew secretly from 2014.
The B-21 will send by 2040 into retirement both the B-52 and B-1 bombers.
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