back to article SpaceShipOne firm to build Stealth Bomber 4.0?

Media reports suggest that the US military has begun a secret, multibillion-dollar programme which will develop a new and more effective Stealth bomber. Reports indicate that Scaled Composites - famous for its X-Prize and Virgin Galactic rocketplane work - will play a key role. Evidence suggesting the existence of the new secret …

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Black Helicopters

Wake up!!

Undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers? Sounds like a RoTM story candidate for sure, or have you given up on this angle (for which read 'been assimilated').

Come on, do try to keep up, we aren't reading this stuff for fun you know....

Cheers, CB

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Black Helicopters

There is another Skywalker, er bomber design.

An alternative that could be flying by 2018 would be to build the FB-22 "Hustler II" on the F-22 production line.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/fb-22.htm

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Way before there were two fathers in the sky.....

And I thought UCAS was something to do with Universities and admissions systems or something like that. Where on earth is my tinfoil hat?

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Thumb Down

Hustler II ?!?!?

Why on earth would someone want to name the FB-22 on that "hanger queen" B-58? Granted, the B-58 was very sexy - beautiful, sleek lines and all. However, it was also a maintenance nightmare which resulted in it being pulled completely from service after only a few years. (IIRC, official service life was 1960-1970)

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Not really another "bomber"

But the FB22 won't be what the USAF considers a "bomber." (Bomber, n. A plane that the Air Force likes that can nuke Moscow.)

They would consider that a "fighter" (Fighter, n. A plane that the Air Force likes that can't nuke Moscow) just like the "F"111 and "F"117. (Neither of which are fighters by anyone's reckoning except the USAF.)

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What's the point?

This is just another way for those yank fuckwits to circumvent the WTO. Subsidising R&D and ploughing billions of taxpayers money into ridiculous projects. Just who are they planning on having a war with?

That military insanity is obsolete, even if everyone in the etats unis is frightened of being more than 3 feet away from a spangled banner, cowardice and fear are hardly fit motivations.

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New Black is the old Black

Lest you forget, the B-2 while built by Boeing was designed by Northrup who designed the original flying wing bomber which was scuttled. Lest you forget, the primary competitor to the F-22 was the Northrup F-23 (which was stealthier and faster, but less agile). Lest you forget, technology does improve and just maybe a newer, stealthier bomber will get the job done as detection technology improves. Remember, the lowly Serbs were able to knock down an F-117, so how long will the B-2 remain stealthy?

I agree, this story is ripe for a RoTM episode or have you truly been assimilated now that these machines feel confident enough to allow publication of articles about monkeys controlling machines with their brainwaves!

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Anonymous Coward

If something blows up for no apparent reason, blame the USAF

I look forward to the day when schools can buy all the books they need and the airforce has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.

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Joke

O-RLY?

<<(And no, launching a rocket won't make people think you've started a nuclear war, any more than when your nuclear-capable planes take off.)>>

I'll bet it will you know. Especially if the newspapers find out about it.

AMERICA RAINS DEATH ON DEFENCELESS COUNTRY! (Daily Mirror)

COLD-WAR ERA AMERICAN TERROR WEAPON IN LONG DISTANCE CARNAGE OUTRAGE! (El Reg.)

SI LO CAN YOU GET? (The Sun?)

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Paris Hilton

@ Chris

"Sounds like a RoTM..."

I for one welcome our new all seeing undetectable super sonic overlords. May death come swiftly to their enemies.

Paris. Because her radar cross section is even lower than her IQ.

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no, not F22++ please

If the money goes to grumman they could just build the YF-23, if necessary scaled up by some 50% or such.

The F-22 is ugly, the YF-23 was not. The responsibles for the F-22 go, F-23 die decision must all have been blind. It's a well esablished fact that military aircraft has 2 requirements: a) cost a lot (err, fund a many jobs) and b) look COOL.

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Black Helicopters

Ditching Aurora then?

So, this is all down to speculation because we assume they "must" be building one, cos they haven't for a while? Paranoia/conspiracy theories on a whole new scale!

PS - an FB-22? I remember the last time they attempted to change the basic role of an aircraft: Eurofighter. Is it a fighter, or a mud-mover? Who can say these days. And the USAF don't use the "FB" designation, that would be an "A"

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Happy

Black Widow II returns!!!

Northrop? Could it be the USAF has finally realised what should have won the ATF comp?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YF-23

I seem to remember that poor terminal guidance killed the conventional ballistic missile. The multi-stage warheads you would want to use to have them dig deep need to be delivered just right.

Was Sweetman one the guys banging on about Aurora back in the 80s? Hypersonic should be turning 20! instead it's now unpossible!

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Boffin

What handling issues?

A link to supposed maintenance and handling issues of the B-2 would have been nice.

Google didn't return much (apart from the Spirit of Kansas crash), nor did you favourite information source (insert W-word here, I shan't type it out).

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Silver badge
Stop

Paging Dr. Sänger...

...so, we're coming back around to that good old time boost-glide space bomber, huh?

http://www.luft46.com/misc/sanger.html

http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/saenger.htm

http://www.luft46.com/jhart/jhsang.html

http://www.luft46.com/jhart/jhsang-4a.jpg

http://www.luft46.com/jhart/jhsang-5a.jpg

http://www.luft46.com/jhart/jhsang-6a.jpg

and, lest we forget:

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/dynasoar.htm

http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/x/x20good.jpg

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mol.htm

http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/m/molnew.jpg

http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/m/molin.jpg

It's like the whole skunk works/space wing of the USAF has been passed down from a generation that's read too many Hugo Gernsback magazines, to a generation that's seen too many "Star Wars" movies, to a generation that's seen too many episodes of SG-1. They've never proven its practicality, but the USAF is still as horny for manned space capability as ever.

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Warnings

Hang on. When a B1 leaves a base in England (say) it's several hours from any Russian missile sites. The Russians have got plenty of time to work out what's going on and blow up thew world as needed.

A ballistic missile takes maybe 30 minutes from Nebraska to Russia. That isn't very long at all. Especially considering that they *might* be able to work out from the trajectory whether it's headed for Tehran or Volgograd. Or not.

So they might be inclined to use em or lose em, as the saying goes.

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Replies

@Rich:

"""Especially considering that they *might* be able to work out from the trajectory whether it's headed for Tehran or Volgograd. Or not."""

Nah, they can tell just where it's going. Mathematically it isn't hard to calculate the destination of a trajectory given a few points along it, and Russia has plenty of rader / sat observation capabilities to scope the trajectory from launch to landing. Plus I'm sure that Russia isn't so hot with the idea if Iran having nukes, so the US could just give them a call and warn them about the impending missile launch.

@AC:

"""PS - an FB-22? I remember the last time they attempted to change the basic role of an aircraft: Eurofighter. Is it a fighter, or a mud-mover? Who can say these days. And the USAF don't use the "FB" designation, that would be an "A""""

I believe that this is a little more than retrofitting a role onto an existing aircraft. I don't know if you read the information at the supplied link, but the idea is just to build on the development work done for the F/A-22 and come up with a rather different aircraft. not just strap some bombs to the F/A and call it a day. And while I don't know that they'd call it an FB-22 (though reliable sources say so...) they can't call it the F/A-22, since they already have one of those.

In any case, sign me up for a couple of those FB thingers, they'll look nice on my (planned) island fortress runway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the point?

The point is to give scaled composites a shit load of money and see what they come up with. Based on past performance, it's always worth seeing what Scaled will slap together.

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Flame

Bombing

Why not just apply the stealth technology directly to the missile? The ranges of these things are pretty much enough to cover the surface of the planet these days anyway...

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Pirate

An old one but..

> I look forward to the day when schools can buy all the books they need and the airforce has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.

Reminds me of this old one.. http://www.subj.com/dhs/f16s_for_schools.htm

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve Mann

I agree completely. Although you missed the Daily Express headline: "Mortgage approvals down for 3rd month in a row"

If UK air defence tracked even a single ICBM originating from the US and heading our way I would expect a nuclear response well before waiting to see if we are all now glow-in-the-dark.

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Alert

start a war with everyone!!

@ "And no, launching a rocket won't make people think you've started a nuclear war, any more than when your nuclear-capable planes take off."

OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD!!!! because the world could actually see ICBMs taking flight... and so WOULD be nervous...

if the Stealth is so good then surely they (americas disliked group) wouldnt know what hit them = WIN

</sarcastic>

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Coat

@ Chris Bradshaw

Undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers!

Undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers!

Undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers!

Undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers!

If you are looking for undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers, then come on down to Steve's undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers emporium. As a result of an overstocking issue we have hundreds of undetectable supersonic robot-controlled bombers at knock down prices.

* Sorry.... it reminded me of a line from Family Guy. I couldn't help myself.

Mine's the yellow PVC one with the radiation trefoil on the back!

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Coat

@start a war with everything

"OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD!!!! because the world could actually see ICBMs taking flight... and so WOULD be nervous..."

So they can see them taking off but can't see where they're going?

I didn't know the uncertainty principal applied to missiles...

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Anonymous Coward

Detection of incoming ICBMS

nah, our ICBM detection network using the phased arrray radar at RAF Fylingdales has been upgraded by the Americans for their Son of Starwars project...it will probably filter out missiles originating from a friendly side..ie..America and we won't even know what hit us!

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Happy

@ Seán

Q: "This is just another way for those yank fuckwits to circumvent the WTO. Subsidising R&D and ploughing billions of taxpayers money into ridiculous projects. Just who are they planning on having a war with?"

A: @ Seán

________________________________________

Any questions ?

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Coat

Stealth cruise missles?

Wouldn't it be cheaper, faster and more versatile to develop a new breed of stealth cruise missiles instead? They are already somewhat stealthy, they are far simpler pieces of kit and they can be launched from a variety of platforms of various sizes, from any part of the world (Sea, land and air). I suspect they could even develop man portable versions, where the missle and launch rails break down into something that a SpecOps team could carry into enemy territory to extend range or reduce the journey time.

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Black Helicopters

Hustler II too small to launch canceled Advanced Cruise Missile

The FB-22 should be called the Hustler II because it would be The Force's second delta wing supersonic medium range bomber.

As for stealthy cruise missiles, they've been canceled, or so they want us to think.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-129_ACM#External_links

In March 2007, despite a Service Life Extension program (SLEP) intended to extend its operational usefulness to 2030, the USAF announced that it will retire its entire inventory of AGM-129 missiles.

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Go

The obvious is missed.

First, a mistake in the article. The production B1B is NOT supersonic. At supersonic speeds it's terrain following radar system (to keep it low to the ground) had some spectacular failures. Plus, the stresses on the crew from violent gain/loss in altitude was dangerous. The B1A-supersonic-was not part of SAC's inventory.

Second, Scaled does all sorts of composite (hey, it's in the name!) research projects-from pocket fighters, to airframe experiments for the V22, to transport aircraft experiments. Scaled came up with much of the advanced fabrication techniques used in the B2, even while they weren't involved in much of the actual aircraft design or production. They built the tools which built the B2-which is IMHO vastly more valuable.

Third, and I don't know why it's necessary to point this out again and again to supposed former military personnel and the blinkered peaceniks who post here- An ICBM or missile *CANNOT BE RECALLED* once it is fired. A manned bomber can be scrambled, and even flown into enemy territory, depending on that nation's alert status. A bomber can be in flight while negotiations between parties are still on the table, it is the "stick" when all talk of peaceful "carrots" have failed. A stealth bomber means you can keep more "sticks" in play while your opponent tries to eliminate them, and may keep the conflict from going to all out war because the bombers can be ordered to standby to bring your enemy back to the table, loitering, instead of committing to all out nuclear armageddon at the moment of button press.

Fourth-and this is very important-it puts HUMAN eyes AT THE SCENE. A missile is targetted based on policy and intel that may be faulty. A robot bomber may have the loitering deterrent effect but it can be fooled easier than a human crew and cannot make decisions on it's own based on experience. Even more importantly, to me, is that a human bomber crew has the option to DISOBEY if their eyes and ears show that the policymakers,intel, or even leadership is WRONG. A missile or a robot will never do that. A human crew might not, but there's that extra chance that the crew might notice that the country schoolhouse marked with the big red "X" is not the massive aboveground chemical plant, and a human crew can choose to hold back on the button for a second to allow civilians time to cross a critical bridge.

You can't cry about removing humans from the loop in case (killbot agitprop in Iraq) and then complain about expensive steath aircraft necessary for the survival of a human crew in the next.

To paraphrase: "UCAVs are fun but stealth bombers make policy"

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Coat

F22 (FR/L)ightning II

In the good old days, aircraft manufacturers would build an 'extra' airframe or two and suspend them with lots of wires attached; they would then pull all the bits hither and yon and see if they could break anything. These were called "Iron Bird" test rigs.

These days, almost everything is designed on computer and tested in a wind tunnel to prove the aerodynamics, then built - all these new-fangled special materials (ie carbon fibre, other non-metallic composites, etc) are just too gorram expensive to waste on such trivialities as a test article to pull apart.

Shortly after the F15s started falling out of the sky a few months back, it was discovered that the F22's fuselage wasn't quite as strong as they'd thought and the things started bending a bit, just behind where the soft pink squidgy thing sits...

Typical military SNAFU, but what should they expect when they get it from the cheapest bidder... unless they *have* seen the error of their ways and gone back to NG for some (Y)F23s to, ahem, "supplement" the Raptors...

Mine's the one with the "Go, Black Widow!", "Harrier (Ground) Crew do it both ways!" and "I was a Pilot before Pontius" patches.

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