Friday, February 26, 2016

USAF reveals B-21 sixth generation bomber rendering

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of America's next generation stealth bomber designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Florida.

Earlier designated the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), the B-21 is designed to replace the Air Force’s aging fleets of bombers – ranging in age from 50+ years for the B-52 to 17+ years for the B-2.

The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

The B-21 will be a long range, highly survivable bomber capable of penetrating and operating in tomorrow’s anti-access, area denial environment.

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The aircraft will be based on proven and mature technologies to save on time and cost, and shares some resemblance to the B-2, both being designed and built by the Northrop Grumman.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

Like the B-2, the rendering reveals a flying wing design, meaning it has no fuselage or tail. The design allow blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

The LRS-B contract is composed of two parts. The EMD phase is a cost-reimbursable type contract with cost and performance incentives. The incentives minimize the contractor’s profit if they do not control cost and schedule appropriately. The independent estimate for the EMD phase is $21.4 billion in 2010 dollars.

The second part of the contract is composed of options for the first 5 production lots, comprising 21 aircraft out of the total fleet of 100.

The Air Force plans to purchase 80-100 LRS-B aircraft at a $550 million average unit procurement cost in base year 2010 dollars.