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  #21  
Old May 31st, 2012, 11:58 AM
bsmart111 bsmart111 is offline
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They can schedule B-52s to take off from Guam or the U.S. or anywhere else fly to wherever they think they may need support and jusr circle and circle and wait for a call. If a crew member gets a leg cramp he can get up and move around. If he needs to pee he can do it fairly efficently. That can't be done in a Strike Eagle. Then when they get a call they program the coordinates or other parameters into a weapon and drop it. Then they go back to circling till needed. Get low on fuel go out to a tanker and top off. Wake the copilot from his nap laying down somewhere and continue to circle. Get a sandwich, continue to circle or drop another bomb. Eventually (maybe 30 hours after taking off) land back at home station and pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. Repeat this again a couple days later. Yes the B-1 can do almost the same missions but B-1s are much more expensive
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  #22  
Old May 31st, 2012, 12:26 PM
NothingNow NothingNow is offline
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Originally Posted by Gunnarnz View Post
The MQ-9 Reaper - in operation now, mind you - can carry 2 JDAMs or 500lb bombs, along with 4 Hellfires (or 14 Hellfires if you forgo the bombs). That's not exactly comparable with a B-52, but it's hardly negligible given that it has a loiter time of over a day. As MattII pointed out, if you need more than that a F-15 can carry enough ordnance for any target you're likely to come across.
Put it another way - what mission that the B-52 currently undertakes are you thinking of that cannot be filled by another platform?
A Long duration bomb truck capable of carrying a meaningful payload for a CAS mission (2x GBU-12 or GBU-38/B and 4x AGM-114 really isn't,) especially since there still is a need for bunker busters and larger weapons to be used in locations like rural Afghanistan.

Plus, the pilot of a B-52 can get up to stretch, take a shit or have a cup of coffee. It's kinda telling that the latest Russian Strike Aircraft (the Su-34 Fullback) includes these basic features to improve crew performance and efficiency on long duration missions.

Meanwhile the crew of the F-15E need loads of Amphetamines, caffeine and a high protein diet to even approach similar endurance at vastly reduced efficiency and much higher risk.
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  #23  
Old May 31st, 2012, 12:29 PM
Pangur Pangur is offline
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OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

where or what is the point of stealth?

the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
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  #24  
Old May 31st, 2012, 12:58 PM
Dathi THorfinnsson Dathi THorfinnsson is offline
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Originally Posted by Pangur View Post
OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

where or what is the point of stealth?

the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
Sure, but the US HAS the b52 already, and with massively overstretched procurement budgets, theres no way the usaf will spend money on a really low priority item like that.
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  #25  
Old May 31st, 2012, 01:07 PM
Xavier Xavier is offline
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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
They can fly supersonic though, so they don't need to loiter, and if the target is more than 700 miles away then what exactly were you bombing anyway?
Supersonic flight has absolutely nothing to do with loitering. Loitering is flying around in circles above an area where ground operations take place, waiting for someone on the ground to ask for fire support.

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Originally Posted by Pangur View Post
OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

where or what is the point of stealth?

the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
Stealth will be usefull when the US finds itself fighting someone with decent air defences.

And a bomb truck can be very cheap, I'd use unmodified cargo planes, just load them with JDAMs and shove them out of the rear cargo door like you would when parachuting supply crates. So instead of a multi-billion aircraft development program, you just develop a light, cheap, carriage/pallet to hold the bomb and roll it out of the aircraft.
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  #26  
Old May 31st, 2012, 01:47 PM
CalBear CalBear is offline
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Originally Posted by Pangur View Post
OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

where or what is the point of stealth?

the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
The B-52 in service are older then the men who are flying and maintaining them. They do not require the maintenance of a B-2 to maintain stealth, but they are OLD and have all the issues related to that, plus the issue of scrounging up parts.

However, if you really want a follow on system to operate in the ultra low threat environment the best bet would be a 747-8 with proper modifications. The -8 has a cargo capacity of 290,000 pounds, even if you take 25% off of that for added military hardware that still gives you three times the payload of the B-52. The USAF already operates some 747 and has a refueling kit available. You could also use 777 freighter, it has nearly identical capabilities and versions are also in service with the USAF.
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  #27  
Old May 31st, 2012, 08:14 PM
MattII MattII is offline
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Originally Posted by miketr View Post
F-15 can't loiter to the same degree and pilot fatigue IS an issue. The drone can't carry heavier weapons.

B-52 has been used because it can do these things. It can carry lots of big weapons and it can just spend hours doing race tracks over a target area.
It requires a big airbase though, which limits forward-deployment, and it's not like it's possible to guess what's going to need to be deployed , and in what order to pack it. Yes we could do with a bomber that sits between the B-52 and the F-15, but would it get used often enough to justify the cost? Oh, and pilot fatigue isn't such an issue once you remember that you're probably not going to need more than 1-2 aircraft at a time, so you can rotate through an entire squadron.

The B-52 is good if you have a specific target in mind and it needs a big weapon, but support guys on the ground, especially against terrorists doesn't require big weapons, a Hellfire (see MQ-9) is good enough for just about anything this side of a radar-guided SAM, and if you're going against that sort of stuff, well just about every fighter aircraft in the US fleet can carry Mavericks.
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  #28  
Old May 31st, 2012, 08:41 PM
FlyingDutchman FlyingDutchman is offline
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Originally Posted by Pangur View Post
I have wondered for some time now if we will ever see a new B-52 type hevay bomberm bascially a long range bomb truck. AFAIK the last B-52 was built in 1962 or 63 which is a very long time ago. I know there was lots of plans to replace it over the decades however none of the designs look to me to be bomb trucks. I appreciate that they B-1 can and does drop iron bombs however to my eyes its just not in the same league as a B-52. Seeing as they still go on combat missions that would suggest that role/requirement has not gone awy so that being the case will be see another heavy bomber in the next say 20 years?
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Originally Posted by AdA View Post
we have seen a number a ocasions lately were there was a need for precision air support without any oposition capable of downing an high altitude aircraft. Modern bombers are expensive because they were built to penetrate air defences. There is a role today for a large high altitute bomb truck. Since most weapons would be smart, there is no need for a very large bombay and since it would be employed only against unprotected targets, no need for stealth or expensive protective mesures. The critical factor will be range, loitering time, crew confort and networking capabilities.
A converted airliner platform, packing a dozen smart bombs and with as low a operating cost as possible might be the way to go.
Since the P8 is already there, why not a bomber variant?
The p-8, just like any converted airliner, has a petite bombbay. If it's large amounts of bombload you want, then I wouldn't pick an airliner.

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Originally Posted by Pangur View Post
OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

where or what is the point of stealth?

the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
With the budgetcrunch all allround there aren't many countries which can afford niche aircraft. The fact that a buff is excellent for coin, don't mean it'll do ok in other types of war.

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Originally Posted by CalBear View Post
The B-52 in service are older then the men who are flying and maintaining them. They do not require the maintenance of a B-2 to maintain stealth, but they are OLD and have all the issues related to that, plus the issue of scrounging up parts.

However, if you really want a follow on system to operate in the ultra low threat environment the best bet would be a 747-8 with proper modifications. The -8 has a cargo capacity of 290,000 pounds, even if you take 25% off of that for added military hardware that still gives you three times the payload of the B-52. The USAF already operates some 747 and has a refueling kit available. You could also use 777 freighter, it has nearly identical capabilities and versions are also in service with the USAF.
An airliner is very unsuitable. Pressurehull and all that. Even in the Spanish Civil War converted airliners (Ju-52) were unsuitable as bombers.
You're better of starting with a c-17's wings and tail and designing a new body.

Interestingly the usaf next gen bomber is more of a follow-up to the b-2 then b-52.

Apologies for typos; using a phone.

Last edited by FlyingDutchman; May 31st, 2012 at 09:01 PM.. Reason: typos
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  #29  
Old May 31st, 2012, 08:54 PM
Bureaucromancer Bureaucromancer is offline
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I think what we'll probably see is a new pair of manned bombers in the short to medium term: one strategic nominal replacement for the 52 but especially the 1 and 2 in most roles that mostly has the goal of high loiter time and lower cost than the B-2 while still being a stealthy and very long range aircraft. Additionally, I would expect a medium bomber replacement for the Strike Eagle at some point, but again focussing more on loiter time than penetration.

As far as a "bomb truck" goes I'd say maybe in that 2040 timeline once the B-52s start to legitimately wear out. My guess is that the idea will be out there and on the back burner, but in the mean time the B-52s will be flown into the ground. Once we get into the era that they physically can't be stretched any further I think we might (mostly depending on what the strategic situation in another 20 or 30 years) see a very large unmanned aircraft designed purely for low cost, large payload and long loiter times... In my vision is would operate purely in that bomb truck roll, an aircraft that, assuming air superiority, can sit above a battlefield and large volumes of ordinance on demand. It could almost be described as a flying version of the Arsenal Ship concept. It might even bear a shocking resemblance to a B-52 with modern materials and engines (which means a substantially different aircraft, but offers some room for cost savings and leaves room for the idea of an optionally manned aircraft). On the other hand with that mission profile there's a good case to be made for turboprops or unducted fans.
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  #30  
Old May 31st, 2012, 08:59 PM
andys andys is online now
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Originally Posted by Xavier View Post
And a bomb truck can be very cheap, I'd use unmodified cargo planes, just load them with JDAMs and shove them out of the rear cargo door like you would when parachuting supply crates. So instead of a multi-billion aircraft development program, you just develop a light, cheap, carriage/pallet to hold the bomb and roll it out of the aircraft.
...and load the pallet onto whatever cargo aircraft is available in theatre.

C-5, C-17, C-27, C-130, etc.

Add one or two specialists to work the thing and you've got yourself a smart bombtruck.

Is that a cargo aircraft transiting another countries airspace (no problem) or a bomber (political grief by the bucketful)? Obviously it's "just" a cargo aircraft, isn't it?
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  #31  
Old May 31st, 2012, 11:47 PM
CalBear CalBear is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman View Post
The p-8, just like any converted airliner, has a petite bombbay. If it's large amounts of bombload you want, then I wouldn't pick an airliner.



With the budgetcrunch all allround there aren't many countries which can afford niche aircraft. The fact that a buff is excellent for coin, don't mean it'll do ok in other types of war.



An airliner is very unsuitable. Pressurehull and all that. Even in the Spanish Civil War converted airliners (Ju-52) were unsuitable as bombers.
You're better of starting with a c-17's wings and tail and designing a new body.

Interestingly the usaf next gen bomber is more of a follow-up to the b-2 then b-52.

Apologies for typos; using a phone.
An unmodified airliner would be unsuitable (especially the -8 since the main access is via the nose of the aircraft). That does not mean that a modified version wouldn't be ideal for the "bomb truck" role. You not really talking about a proper combat aircraft, you are talking about a cargo carrier whose cargo is bombs. The -8 or 777 would be an "off the shelf" solution for an ultra low threat environment delivery system such as that under discussion.

The Next Gen Bomber is designed/proposed to go into high threat environments in wars vs. peer/near peer opposition. It is pretty much the exact opposite of the OP.
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  #32  
Old June 1st, 2012, 12:22 AM
miketr miketr is offline
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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
It requires a big airbase though, which limits forward-deployment, and it's not like it's possible to guess what's going to need to be deployed , and in what order to pack it.
This has never been an issue for the B-52 with its range and air to air refueling. They forward deploy from US to one of our bases like Diego Garcia or Guam and the any place we need them is now in easy mission reach.


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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
Yes we could do with a bomber that sits between the B-52 and the F-15, but would it get used often enough to justify the cost?
The B-52 has been the most used bomber in US inventory. Usage tells and the B-52 has dumped more bombs than anything else.


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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
Oh, and pilot fatigue isn't such an issue once you remember that you're probably not going to need more than 1-2 aircraft at a time, so you can rotate through an entire squadron.
Not what I am talking about. Pilot Fatigue on a mission. You can't stand and stretch your legs in fighter. You can't turn the aircraft over the co-pilot and take a nap. The B-52 can do these things.

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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
The B-52 is good if you have a specific target in mind and it needs a big weapon, but support guys on the ground, especially against terrorists doesn't require big weapons, a Hellfire (see MQ-9) is good enough for just about anything this side of a radar-guided SAM, and if you're going against that sort of stuff, well just about every fighter aircraft in the US fleet can carry Mavericks.
You don't use a $70K guided missile with 10 lbs of HE when you can drop an iron bomb left over from Vietnam or Korea and you fit a $40K - $70K JDAM system to it and you get 200 lbs to a 1000 lbs (rounding here a bit) of HE. A Single B-52 carries more weapons than an entire squadron of attack fighters. Weapons are dropped in ones or twos as needed. A B-52 is artillery on demand.

The lighter weapons are used when for different types of targets.

There are uses for both of course.

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  #33  
Old June 1st, 2012, 07:09 AM
MattII MattII is offline
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Originally Posted by miketr View Post
This has never been an issue for the B-52 with its range and air to air refueling. They forward deploy from US to one of our bases like Diego Garcia or Guam and the any place we need them is now in easy mission reach.
Whereas you can forward deploy

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The B-52 has been the most used bomber in US inventory. Usage tells and the B-52 has dumped more bombs than anything else.
Uh, I was questioning the development of a new intermediate bomber here, not questioning the worth of the B-52.

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Not what I am talking about. Pilot Fatigue on a mission. You can't stand and stretch your legs in fighter. You can't turn the aircraft over the co-pilot and take a nap. The B-52 can do these things.
Lack on loiter means you're not going to be on station for long, couple of hours at max.

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You don't use a $70K guided missile with 10 lbs of HE when you can drop an iron bomb left over from Vietnam or Korea...
Iron bombs are not noticeably accurate, at least compared to guided munitions.

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A Single B-52 carries more weapons than an entire squadron of attack fighters. Weapons are dropped in ones or twos as needed. A B-52 is artillery on demand.
That's helpful if you want to destroy a buried enemy complex or a tank company, but for taking out a small convoy of light-vehicles or a small camp then a drone is good enough, a lot more fuel-efficient, and a lot less noticeable (the target may not have weapons, but if it's anywhere near the border, the neighbours are going to have a fit).

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There are uses for both of course.
Which is kind of my point, The B-52 (or its replacement) will always be useful in certain situations, but it will never be the only bomber. What I question is the need for a specific intermediate bomber, surely a modified P-8 or MC-130 could function as well as a dedicated but new aircraft.
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  #34  
Old June 1st, 2012, 07:25 AM
Gunnarnz Gunnarnz is offline
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Originally Posted by MattII View Post
The B-52 (or its replacement) will always be useful in certain situations, but it will never be the only bomber. What I question is the need for a specific intermediate bomber, surely a modified P-8 or MC-130 could function as well as a dedicated but new aircraft.
I doubt that the P-8 would serve very well in that role. It's weapon capacity is plenty for a maritime patrol aircraft, but it just is not suited for carrying the large quantities of ordnance you're talking about - 5 internal and 6 external hardpoints. The major problem there is the low wing; those spars go right through where an enlarged payload bay would need to be (source). Something like a C-130 or C-17 (cutaway diagrams linked) might well be a better bet. For starters they're designed to be able to drop their payload in flight, and you might be able to rig some kind of ventral door instead of using the rear ramp. The internal spaces would need a fair bit of rearranging, but the cargo bay is already clear - no need for renovating stuctural members in order to get the weapons to fit or be deployed.
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  #35  
Old June 1st, 2012, 07:38 AM
MattII MattII is offline
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Well the GBU-10 and GBU-24 are no longer than the SLAM-ER, and wider doesn't matter so much since you'd probably only need to carry one or two bombs, rather than 5 for the SLAM-ER.
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  #36  
Old June 1st, 2012, 07:55 AM
Gunnarnz Gunnarnz is offline
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Well the GBU-10 and GBU-24 are no longer than the SLAM-ER, and wider doesn't matter so much since you'd probably only need to carry one or two bombs, rather than 5 for the SLAM-ER.
If we only want to carry one or two bombs, why are we even talking about a new aircraft at all? The Reaper drones discussed up-thread can carry more than that and stay up for longer. I thought we were talking about a design to replace the B-52 in the "bomb-truck" role, if all we need to do is carry a couple of bombs we've already GOT the solution in the air already.
Perhaps we should clarify this - what jobs does the hypothetical B-52 replacement have to do?
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  #37  
Old June 1st, 2012, 08:11 AM
AdA AdA is offline
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Numbers

The marines have allredy converted their KC130J to be able to drop smart bombs, so that's one way of doing it. If the requirementy is for a small number of aircraft, you have to go with an existing platform. If you want a few more, converting an aircraft mean a proper bombbay with doors under the aircraft. converting an airliner airframe along the lines of the P8 but with a bigger airliner as a base would be the way to do it cheaper, specially regarding operating costs. Since the USAF will have to buy a new refueling aircraft, using the same frame would make sense. So if they go for the Boeing KC46, a 767 based "B3" with a large ventral bombbay would be the way to go.
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  #38  
Old June 1st, 2012, 08:24 AM
Gunnarnz Gunnarnz is offline
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Originally Posted by AdA View Post
The marines have allredy converted their KC130J to be able to drop smart bombs, so that's one way of doing it. If the requirementy is for a small number of aircraft, you have to go with an existing platform. If you want a few more, converting an aircraft mean a proper bombbay with doors under the aircraft. converting an airliner airframe along the lines of the P8 but with a bigger airliner as a base would be the way to do it cheaper, specially regarding operating costs. Since the USAF will have to buy a new refueling aircraft, using the same frame would make sense. So if they go for the Boeing KC46, a 767 based "B3" with a large ventral bombbay would be the way to go.
I agree, I'm just not sure it's possible. The P-8 appears to carry it's weapon bay in a fairing below the fuselage, presumably in order to avoid having to modify the wing spars where they pass through the fuselage. The 767 would likely have the same problem, meaning that the bomb bay could not be be placed inside the aircraft AND at the center of gravity.
You might be able to get around it by having two bays, one fore and one aft of the wing spars, but you'd have to pay attention to load balancing a bit more carefully then. Or have the capacity to rapidly shift fuel between fore and aft fuselage tanks as a balancing measure.
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  #39  
Old June 1st, 2012, 08:56 AM
MattII MattII is offline
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Originally Posted by Gunnarnz View Post
If we only want to carry one or two bombs, why are we even talking about a new aircraft at all?
Don't look at me, id Was AdA who started talking about such an aircraft, I disagreed that it was necessary, and then everyone started jumping on me because they assumed I was denigrating the B-52.
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  #40  
Old June 1st, 2012, 09:25 AM
AdA AdA is offline
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Originally Posted by Gunnarnz View Post
If we only want to carry one or two bombs, why are we even talking about a new aircraft at all? The Reaper drones discussed up-thread can carry more than that and stay up for longer. I thought we were talking about a design to replace the B-52 in the "bomb-truck" role, if all we need to do is carry a couple of bombs we've already GOT the solution in the air already.
Perhaps we should clarify this - what jobs does the hypothetical B-52 replacement have to do?
We need a manned plataform that can carry 12 JDAM and loiter above Somalia for four hours without costing more in flight hours than paying the ransom the pirates are demanding.
The problem with the B1b, B52, F15E, etc is the huge cost per flight hour.
The US talks about other countries being reluctant to join them on war fighting missions. One of the reasons nobody mentions is that war is currently too expensive. Easyjet can fly 120 people from Paris to Moscow and back for a fraction of the cost of putting one bomb on a single Taliban held house. Either we have aircraft that are too expensive to fly, or we have lousy accountants...
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